Novak Djokovic: 'Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal made me more professional'

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Novak Djokovic: 'Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal made me more professional'

No younger players really broke through on the ATP Tour in the last decade. Many people say that it's the Next Generation fault, other people say that the veterans are too strong. What does Novak Djokovic think about it? 'Federer and Nadal are two very popular athletes', the 31-year-old admitted.

'As I said, both of them, maybe two out of four best players ever to play this game. So to be able to compete with them, it is something special. But I know as somebody, when I was starting to play professional tennis tournaments, got to No.3 of the world, I know how much struggle I had to go through mentally.

Obviously with confidence and self‑belief, after I lost many of the important matches against those guys. But they made me also work harder. They made me believe more in myself, be more professional, more dedicated. It is great to be part of their era.

It is what it is. But as expected in a course of life you get a new generation that is coming up. Let's call it Federer and Nadal's fault that those guys were not able to make a bigger breakthrough, faster breakthrough to the top 10.

But I think today the tennis is much more competitive physically and mentally also. By all of the top players playing the major events and not getting injured on a regular basis in the last five years, that says enough about the level of tennis that we are in right now.

So it makes it more difficult for the young talents to come up and make a breakthrough. We'll see. I believe that tennis will stay the way it is because we're experiencing some really good times. I'm sure that more players will join that top group.' Djokovic once won the ATP Humanitarian Award.

How does that figure alongside his tennis achievements and awards? 'To be honest, it's even a bigger award to me personally than any other because it's a respect to what my foundation has done this year and all these years, so this is something that makes all the people working in our foundation very happy and motivates us all to do even more.' ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal: Worse players than David Ferrer won a Grand Slam title