Roger Federer just downplayed Novak Djokovic's greatest achievement

  • Novak Djokovic is on the cusp of holding all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
  • Djokovic is the reigning Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open champion and would complete the sport’s majors for the second time in his career if he wins the French Open this summer.
  • Roger Federer, who has never held all four majors at the same time, said this is “super impressive,” but not that impressive when you put it in context.
  • Djokovic and Federer are in Florida for the Miami Open, where they’re in the second round.

Novak Djokovic is one Grand Slam trophy away from holding all four tennis majors at the same time – a great achievement, but one that his archrival, Roger Federer, downplayed.

Djokovic has been on a tear since the middle of last summer, when he hit peak form during the grass season and won Wimbledon. Then he took his hot streak into the hard-court season, winning the Cincinnati Masters, the US Open, and the Shanghai Masters in three months.

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This year, Djokovic has been just as impressive, as he won the Australian Open – his third Grand Slam title in a row – with precision tennis, backhand winners, and superior rally craft, out-hustling Rafael Nadal in straight sets.

Should he win the second French Open of his career at Roland Garros this year, he’ll have triumphed in four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments in tennis – something that only two other athletes have achieved in the history of the men’s singles category.

He has done this once before, known as the Nole Slam, when he won his first French Open title in 2016 after having won all majors in the previous year.

Novak DjokovicPhoto by Julian Finney/Getty ImagesDjokovic won the French Open in 2016.

Federer told Sport 360 that while that was “super impressive,” it’s easier to accomplish in the modern era than when Don Budge won six Slams in a row in 1937 and 1938 or when Rod Laver completed calendar Slams in 1962 and 1969.

“There is also no secret that nowadays it’s easier to do maybe than before,” Federer said, adding: “It’s just that the surfaces play more even today, more equal. Back in the day, you had really fast grass courts to extremely slow clay courts.”

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Federer referred to Bjorn Borg, the former world No. 1 tennis player who won 11 Grand Slam titles – six at the French Open and five consecutive majors at Wimbledon – in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s.

“The difference was just so extreme that it was hard to do what Borg did, you know, winning back-to-back French Opens, Wimbledons, because the game was so different,” he said. “You really had to serve and volley on grass. Today you can not serve and volley once on grass and win Wimbledon.”

Federer has won 20 Grand Slam titles but has never held all four majors at the same time, though he has come close. Nadal too has 17 Grand Slam titles but has never won each major consecutively.

“It could happen more frequently,” Federer said. “That’s what we’re seeing. I won three, made the finals of one. Rafa, I think he was also, I’m sure, close many times. Novak’s now been extremely close and has done it once, now maybe going for another one.

“So it shows that it is more possible today,” Federer said. “But the feat, still, regardless if the conditions are easier, is still, and would be, an unbelievable one. So yeah, credit to him.”

Federer and Djokovic are in Florida for the Miami Open, where they’re in the second round. Djokovic will face the winner of Bernard Tomic and Thiago Monteiro’s first-round match, while Federer will take on either Radu Albot or Matthew Ebden.

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