Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic had a completely different season, with one player competing in only 13 matches and the other chasing a Major glory. The Swiss veteran underwent two knee surgeries in 2020, and it was not enough to keep him injury-free, entering five tournaments between March and July this year and scoring nine wins, seven at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Following the 18th quarter-final at the All England Club, Roger decided to take another break and undergo the third knee surgery, enduring another recovery process and hoping to get back on track in 2022. On the other hand, Novak Djokovic was a history chaser in the current season, becoming a player with most weeks as world no.
1 and matching Federer and Nadal on 20 Major titles. After failures at the last year's US Open and Roland Garros, Novak was eager to improve his results at Majors in 2021 and challenge his two great rivals in the GOAT race.
In February, the Serb secured the ninth Australian Open crown, dealing with an abdominal injury and recovering to topple Milos Raonic, Alexander Zverev, Aslan Karatsev and Dominic Thiem. Novak's 19th Major title came in Paris, overcoming two sets to love deficit twice and ousting Rafael Nadal in a memorable semi-final to secure the second Roland Garros trophy in five years.
Half away from a calendar Grand Slam, Djokovic was the favorite at Wimbledon and proved that on the court, beating Denis Shapovalov and Matteo Berrettini to grab the sixth trophy at the All England Club and move closer to tennis glory.
Novak Djokovic missed a chance of achieving a calendar Grand Slam.
Novak came from a set down four times at the US Open to reach the final and stand one victory away from a calendar Grand Slam, the first since Rod Laver in 1969!
Facing Daniil Medvedev in the title clash, Djokovic experienced a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 loss, cracking under pressure and not recovering enough to challenge a determined Russian who was eager to claim the first Major crown from the third final.
Speaking about Novak, Roger praised the great rival and everything he has achieved in 2021, calling his season an exceptional one. "I think it's possible to get another calendar Grand Slam winner in the future. Novak, Rafa and I were extremely close.
To achieve that, you need to have a bit of luck, determination, strength and everything you can think of. That makes it hard to achieve, but it's not impossible. I also have to ask what Laver thought because he was watching Novak play from the first row. But what Novak did this year was, of course, truly exceptional," Roger Federer said.