The Big Three have long dominated men’s tennis. But the eldest of the three, Roger Federer, on Friday bid adieu to the sport after his doubles match at the Laver Cup in London. This leaves just two more members in the ATP tour amid the rise of young stars, led by Spanish teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz who recently won the US Open earlier this month. Hence, Novak Djokovic, the youngest of the Big Three, was asked by a reporter on the threat Alcaraz poses, but he shut the question with an epic Rafael Nadal statement.
It has been an emotional three days for members of Team Europe at Laver Cup and for tennis fans across the globe as Federer drew curtains on his 24-year-long career. Federer had however lost his final match, a doubles alongside Nadal, before Team Europe conceded the four-point lead on the final day with an impressive turnaround scripted by Frances Tiafoe and Felix Auger-Alisamme. Moments after Team World’s maiden Laver Cup win, Djokovic once again paid tribute to Federer while speaking to Spanish media.
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“I think these were a few emotional days, because of Roger’s goodbye and we felt the great energy of his farewell. He is one of the founders of the Laver Cup, so I think it was a great way to say goodbye to tennis. This is a unique competition, we have fun together. I am very happy to have been part of Team Europe. We lost unfortunately, but I think this was a fantastic week that I will remember for a long time,” said the Serb.
With Laver Cup over and focus shifting back to the ATP tour and Djokovic slated to return to action next week, the world no.7 was asked about whether in Federer’s absence, Alcaraz has emerged as his biggest rival. The youngster had defeated Djokovic in his only meeting in Madrid Open earlier this year. But Djokovic snubbed the Spaniard to pick his compatriot and 22-time Slam winner. “Well… Nadal is still here, isn’t he?” queried the surprised Serb. “Obviously, it’s still Rafa, as long as he plays, he is my biggest rival.”
Djokovic will play at Tel Aviv Watergen Open starting Tuesday.
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