Novak Djokovic's admission about Federer and Nadal at Wimbledon

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·Sports Reporter
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Roger Federer (pictured right) congratulating Novak Djokovic (pictured left) at the net after their Wimbledon match.
Novak Djokovic (pictured left) shared some kind words for Roger Federer (pictured right) and Rafa Nadal after reaching a unique milestone in grand slams after his first round Wimbledon victory. (Getty Images)

World No.3 Novak Djokovic has praised both Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer for their influence on his career following his first round Wimbledon victory.

Six-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic was all smiles on centre court after shaking off some rustiness and indifferent recent form to kick off his title defence in record-breaking mode.

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Seeking a fourth successive Wimbledon title, Djokovic was made to work for his laborious 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory under the centre court roof on a rainy opening day.

The No.1 seed, out of sorts at times, still notched up an extraordinary new milestone, becoming the first player - man or woman - to record at least 80 singles victories at all four grand slams.

After the match, Djokovic was asked about his two greatest rivals, Nadal and Federer, upon being the first male player to achieve the special milestone.

And Djokovic showed his class and only had encouraging words for the pair.

"[I have] nothing but respect for these guys," Djokovic said.

"Of course, both of them have influenced my development as a tennis player a lot, probably more than any other players.”

Djokovic went on to pinpoint matches at Wimbledon in 2014, 2015 and 2019 as his 'most intense'.

"Every time you step on the court with Roger, it's not an ordinary match," he added.

"There's so much more weight to everything that is around that match... the anticipation, the rivalry... fighting for trophies adds to the expectation and gives more significance to the match-up.

"It's an ultimate challenge in sport; playing Roger on grass and Rafa on clay. [Both of them] have made very impressive careers on those surfaces."

Novak Djokovic feels fans warmth at Wimbledon

The crowd at the All England Club were quick to recognise his unique feat of 80 victories or more at each of the grand slams.

This is despite a dramatic year in which his anti-Covid vaccination stance has made the 20-times grand slam champion a polarising figure.

"I was very pleasantly surprised, I mean, in a positive way. I felt support," Djokovic said after his first round win.

"I thought they were very fair to me. I enjoyed my time very much on the court."

Djokovic admitted he had endured a tough couple of months following the deportation debacle in Australia.

Novak Djokovic (pictured) thanks the crowd after his victory at Wimbledon.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) celebrates victory over Soon Woo Kwon on day one of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

But, the World No.3 said he has moved on from the drama that overshadowed the beginning of his 2022.

"Yes and no. Yes, because I've experienced something that I've never experienced in my life in Australia," Djokovic said.

"So this post-Australian period of next several months was challenging emotionally for me.

"The sensation of coming back on the court with everything that happened post-Australia, particularly first few tournaments, was a different feel. Not very pleasant to me."

"(But) in terms of my motivation on the court, it hasn't changed much, to be honest.

"Right now, I don't feel the traces of that any more. I move on."

Djokovic will take on Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round of Wimbledon.

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