Novak Djokovic paid tribute to ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time’ after Roger Federer retired from tennis.
Djokovic had made light work of Frances Tiafoe for Team Europe in his Laver Cup match minutes earlier on Saturday night, one of the few times that Djokovic had found himself on the same side as his perennial rival.
However the rivalry between the two former world No. 1s was clearly set aside and the respect for Federer was evident.
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Speaking after his win, he said: “I think we would all agree this was one of the most beautiful moments that everyone has experienced live or on TV , on the tennis courts worldwide of all time. We all knew that it was going to be an emotional farewell for Roger, I think we were all taken away by the moment and at the same time it’s a mixture of emotion.
“Sadness because one of the greatest athletes of all time is leaving the sport, on the other hand, seeing him happy with the way it all played out, I was just very grateful to be alongside other Team World and Team Europe players to witness that. One of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
He continued: “I understand and I empathise with Roger because I understand what is necessary to be on the Tour for so long. It’s an individual sport so people think it’s really only up to us, win or lose, we take the blame or credit, which is somewhat the truth but on the other side you wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of the closest ones.
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“I think he said it beautifully that his wife Mirka and closest ones allowed him to play at such an incredible level for so long.”
Djokovic then brought his speech to a close, joking: “I’ve witnessed something that is extremely unique and special, but I’ve got to run as I’m going to be on the court in 20 minutes!”
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