Federer's classy nod to resurgent Djokovic

Roger Federer has heaped praise on Novak Djokovic and the Serb’s incredible return from injury to Grand Slam winning ways.

After an injury-ridden two-year period for Djokovic, the 31-year-old made a stunning run to lift the Wimbledon trophy just last month.

In the process, Djokovic snapped the streak of six consecutive Grand Slams won by either Nadal or Federer, and climbed back into the top ten rankings.

So it was a bit surprising when the Swiss master produced a classy response when asked about Djokovic, given his threatening return to form.

“I thought it was great for the sport, I’m happy for him,” Federer said in a Cincinnati Open press conference.

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Roger Federer heaped praise on Novak’s stunning return to winning ways. Pic: Getty

“I know it probably it hasn’t been easy the last couple of years for him but then again I don’t think anybody should be feeling sorry for him.

“We’ve had so much success that it’s just more beautiful when you do come back after a tough time.”

Federer has delayed his return to the summer hardcourt season, and the world number two will use the Cincinnati event to ease back into the schedule – preparing for the US Open shortly afterwards.

Djokovic will also feature in the US Open, and Federer says it’s a welcome challenge to have such a talent-packed filled at the Slam.

“Novak can play with less pressure again I guess,” he said.

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“Definitely exciting times, a lot of the best players are back in the game and I think the US Open is going to be epic.”

The 20-time major winner skipped Toronto last week to pace himself with the tournament at Flushing Meadows followed by the Laver Cup in Chicago in mid-September.

“I’ve trained hard, I’m anxious. I chose to skip Toronto for the health of my body,” the seven-time Cincinnati champion said.

“I don’t want to be hurt, there is too much to play.”

But the Swiss admitted that sitting out competition is difficult.

“Watching from afar is tough,” said Federer, who will start against Peter Gojowczyk after the German beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Novak Djokovic celebrates his win over Steve Johnson at the Cincinnati Masters. Pic: Getty

“But that’s part of growing older, you’ve got to take care of the body.

“It’s nice to be back and I hope to have a good tournament.”

Federer last played a match on hardcourt 141 days ago, when he lost in the Miami second round to Thanasi Kokkinakis before skipping the clay season and returning on grass.

He said that while he would prefer not to take weeks away, it has now become a necessity in prolonging his fabled career.

“You’ve got to keep it all in perspective, it’s easier now for me to take time away. I wish I could play everything but it’s not possible.

“I’m more relaxed about my schedule now. I have more time for the family, which is important for me,” the father of two sets of twins said.

“The hectic part of my life has passed. Even when I have to take time away, I still get something out of it.”

Federer did express regret that Rafael Nadal, the Toronto champion, had to withdraw from Cincinnati in order to ease the strain on his body after a solid, if demanding, week of success.

“It’s a pity Rafa is not playing, but it’s still an amazing draw.”

Roger Federer is returning to action for the first time since his quarter-final exit at Wimbledon

with AFP.