Former Swedish tennis star Robin Soderling believes that Novak Djokovic at his best would beat the 19-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer as Serb’s incredible ball returning ability would cause the Swiss to ‘panic a little bit’.
Former World no. 4 – two times French Open Finalist has encountered both the great players in many occasions. Federer got the better of him 16 times but he believes that Djokovic at his best & peak will match the level of Roger Federer.
Djokovic has struggled for form since winning the French Open in 2016 and lost his number one ranking to Andy Murray the same year. He managed just two titles this year and parted ways with his entire coaching team.
The Serbian has not played since his loss in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon earlier this year & will be seen at Qatar Open 2018 for the first time. His 2017 campaign was ended prematurely due to an elbow injury.
However, Soderling picked Federer as his favorite for the Australian Open & backed him to defend his title this year too. In 2017 Federer edged past his rival Rafael Nadal in a thrilling final to lift the title.
‘I always had tough matches against Roger, Soderling told Tennis Smash.
Playing against Djokovic, Nadal, I could go off the court and feel I played well. But against Roger, he just made me play bad. ‘But if they are both at the top, I think Novak would beat Roger more times than the opposite.
‘He moved so well, got so many balls back. That’s really tough for Roger because he might play too fast, he would panic a little bit. But it’s really tough to say.’
Soderling & Djokovic are the only two players to defeat the Clay-king Rafael Nadal at French Open, with the former beating the 16-time Grand Slam winner on the way to the final in 2009 and Djokovic repeating the feat in 2015.
And the Swede opened up on how he pulled off an unlikely victory to end Nadal’s four-year winning streak at Roland Garros. ‘You have to play really aggressive,’ he added.
‘I didn’t worry about him, I tried to be aggressive and made sure not to give him any time and put pressure on him all the time. ‘If you stay on the baseline and play cautious it’s impossible to beat him.
‘I had to take chances and go for my shots, and that day it worked really well, I was hitting the ball extremely well.’