The tennis community waits in anticipation as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer prepare to square off next week for the first time since the Serbian toppled Federer in a historic decisive tiebreaker at Wimbledon.
Djokovic, who saved two championship points to increase his head-to-head lead over the Swiss to 26-22 in that compelling final, comes into the Nitto ATP Finals with renewed confidence, after tasting victory in Paris-Bercy last weekend. Federer for his part, also enters the prominent tournament in good spirits, having picked up his 10th title on home soil in Basel earlier in October.
In an intriguing setup, each ATP Finals group conducted their pre-tournament press conferences together, creating a unique dynamic. At one point, the Swiss was put on the spot, when a journalist asked Federer if he felt this change in scenery would give him the upper hand against Djokovic, given his track record indoors.
“I hope so. I don’t know,” laughed Federer. “He’s been playing ok indoors, too. It’s not like his record is not existent or so much worse than mine.”
The response drew a smile from Djokovic—who was sat directly beside his rival—as Federer carried on with his answer. “I’m very excited to play against Novak again here. I’m happy to be in his group.
“Our games really match up nicely. It’s great for the crowd, super athletic [and] we have different playing styles. It’s pretty quick here, I feel, the courts. It will be interesting. Indoors, you focus more maybe on your serve, rather than what your opponent does. It should be exciting.”
Overall, Federer holds a 296-68 mark (81.3%) indoors with 26 titles—four of his six triumphs at the year-end event have come under a roof. Djokovic is 148-40 (78.7%) and has more ‘Big Titles’ on the surface, with five ATP Finals victories and five trophies at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris-Bercy (to Federer’s one) accounting for his 13 career successes. Djokovic is 6-4 against Federer when squaring off indoors (3-2 in London), taking five of the those last six encounters.
Of note, Djokovic was not asked to follow-up on Federer’s reply. The two could meet as early as Tuesday should both win their opening round-robin matches on Sunday. Djokovic begins with first-time qualifier Matteo Berrettini, while Federer faces world No. 5 Dominic Thiem.