“Federer: Djokovic ‘the only guy who’s been able to stop me’”

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Roger Federer may be an optimist, but he’s not delusional.

After losing decisively to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals (the fourth straight time he’s lost to Djokovic at a major), Federer conceded that the world No. 1 has his number right now. He was also sure to point out, however, that he himself has had everyone else’s number lately.

“Novak right now is a reference for everybody,” Federer said. “He’s the only guy who’s been able to stop me as of late, and Stan (Wawrinka) when he was on fire in Paris. It’s OK.”

It’s true. Time and again over the past two years, Federer has blown through his part of the draw at the Slams, only to crash into the immovable object that is Djokovic.

Federer also dispelled the notion that Djokovic holds some sort of physical or psychological edge over him in best-of-five matches. The sentiment is understandable, given that Federer is six years Djokovic’s senior and has had far less trouble with him in best-of-threes (he won three of their six such matches in 2015). But Federer insists there’s no difference as far as he’s concerned.

“Best of three, best of five, I can run for four or five hours. It’s not a problem,” he said. “I prove it in practice again in the offseason, no sweat. So from that standpoint I’m not worried going into long rallies.

“I know you guys make it a different case. I get that, because you think I’m old and all that. But it’s no problem for me.”

At 34, Federer would be the oldest Slam winner since Ken Rosewall in 1970 if he were to capture his 18th major title this season. Even after the Djokovic-administered beatdown, he’s confident he has the goods to make that happen.

“It’s disappointing, but at the same time I’m going deep in Slams right now,” he said. “I’m having great runs. I thought I had a tough draw here, so I’m actually pleased where my level’s at (at) the beginning of the season.”

- With h/t to Tennis.com

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