Roger Federer was bullish in his exit at the 2016 Australian Open, but the Swiss Maestro admitted world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was the only guy in the sport who could stop him from winning.
"Novak right now is a reference for everybody,” Federer said, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. “He's the only guy that has been able to stop me as of late.”
Federer ended his 2016 Australian Open campaign with a defeat against career rival Djokovic, who now leads the Swiss in their ATP Head2Head matchup by 23-22. While the loss does not entirely sum up Federer’s success this year, it certainly clouds the 34-year-old’s chances for another Grand Slam title.
The last time Federer won a major title was in 2012 at Wimbledon, where he defeated world No. 2 Andy Murray in four sets. The 17-time Grand Slam winner was close to adding more major titles in his record last season, with final round appearances at Wimbledon and US Open, but he failed to overcome Djokovic, who won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in 2015.
As a result, Federer departed with Stefan Edberg and brought in Ivan Ljubicic on his side in an attempt for a more successful season. The move is believed to counter Djokovic’s dominance in the sport, but Federer’s latest loss suggests that he and Ljubicic have more preparations to do.
"My rhythm, my timing, all that, was a bit off in the beginning," Federer said after losing to Djokovic 6-1 6-2 3-6 6-3, reports the BBC. "He took advantage of that and did an unbelievable job for a long, long time tonight."
Meanwhile, the Serb is getting closer to his sixth Australian Open title as he looks to face Murray, who overcame Milos Raonic in five sets in their four hour long semi-final match. If Djokovic wins in Melbourne, he will also be crowned tennis’ first $100 million man.