Novak Djokovic Honestly Reflects on Roger Federer's Early Dissatisfaction

Novak Djokovic spoke about the amount of respect every player should have

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic Honestly Reflects on Roger Federer's Early Dissatisfaction
© Ryan Pierse / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic reached the Australian Open fourth round for the 16th time after beating Tomas Martin Etcheverry. The tennis world expected Novak's clash with Ben Shelton in the last 16, but the American fell to Adrian Mannarino in five sets.

The topic of conversation surrounding Djokovic and Shelton has centered on their phone hang-up drama, and Djokovic revisited this theme after his victory over Etcheverry. According to Novak, the core of the matter lies in fundamental respect for one's opponent across the net.

Djokovic candidly acknowledged that even Roger Federer disapproved of his behavior during their initial encounters in 2006 and 2007. Novak was very confident, knowing he had to game to challenge the rivals from the top and reflecing that mindset in his on-court demeanor.

However, he was always prepared to acknowledge his mistakes and offer apologies. Throughout his career, Djokovic maintained a consistent level of respect for his opponents at the net, a principle instilled in him during his early tennis lessons.

While Federer initially criticized Djokovic's frequent medical timeouts in 2006, labeling them a "joke" during the Davis Cup, the two legends maintained a courtly respect for each other over nearly 15 years, despite not being close friends.

Novak Djokovic admitted Roger Federer did not like his behavior at the beginning.

Initially appreciating Ben Shelton's phone hang-up celebration, Djokovic's opinion shifted when the young player began displaying disrespect toward his opponents, including Djokovic himself in last year's US Open semi-final.

Djokovic defeated Shelton in straight sets, using the youngster's celebration as a platform to critique his behavior. Novak acknowledges Ben's youthful exuberance and winning attitude, deeming it a positive trait. However, he emphasizes that such attitudes must always be tempered with a significant dose of respect for the adversary on the opposite side of the net.

Djokovic and Shelton could have shown the mutual respect in the Australian Open fourth round, but the young American failed to get there. Shelton led two sets to one versus Adrian Mannarino before losing ground in sets four and five, failing to repeat last year's run in Melbourne.

Roger Federer & Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2020© Hannah Peters / Staff - Getty Images Sport

"At the beginning, Roger Federer did not like how I behaved; I did not sit him well. I was not the favorite type of guy to the rivals from the top because I was not affraid to say that I want to become world no.

1. I was confident, knowing I had the game to back the claim. Winning or losing, I'm always trying to respect my opponent. Ben Shelton's level of confidence is great; you have to believe. However, there is a line of acceptable behaviour toward your opponent. When someone crosses it, it becomes annoying," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Roger Federer