NEW YORK: Novak Djokovic, back from the wilderness with an unlikely Wimbledon triumph, has even better tennis in him, Swiss great Roger Federer says.
“I think he probably still has more left in him. I think he’s playing well, but I think he can even play better,” Federer said in Flushing Meadows this week as he prepared for Monday’s start of the US Open.
Third-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro also backed Djokovic to continue his rise back from a right elbow injury — all the way back to number one in the world.
“I believe in him,” del Potro said. “I know he has everything to win the first position in the world again. But I also know what he has been through to get into this position again. He had frustration with the injury. He leaves early in every tournament. It’s not normal for a player like him.”
Federer got an up-close look at a rejuvenated Djokovic when the Serb beat him in the final at Cincinnati last week — a triumph that saw Djokovic complete his collection of all nine prestigious Masters 1000 events.
That hardcourt victory stamped Djokovic a US Open favourite as he joins former champions Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray in returning to the tournament a year after injuries saw them all sit out the last major of the season.
Their stories sound similar, but Federer, who at 37 has endured his share of injuries, said there’s no magic path back to the top after a significant spell on the sidelines.
“I think it depends on what kind of injury you have had or what kind of process and road you have had to the comeback,” he said. “If you have an injury that always keeps on hurting and you’re always playing with fear of your next step or your next match, it can really rob you with your confidence in terms of movement and then you will never be the same player again.”