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Novak Djokovic says Roger Federer's withdrawal from RG was "a bit surprising", but declares the Swiss was "well within his rights" to pull out

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
ANALYST

Novak Djokovic believes Roger Federer was "well within his rights" to withdraw from Roland Garros on account of physical issues. Federer, who could have been Djokovic's quarterfinal opponent, withdrew from the tournament on Sunday, a day before his fourth-round match against Matteo Berrettini.

Djokovic appeared to be following Federer out the door when he trailed by two sets against Lorenzo Musetti in his fourth-round clash on Monday. But the Serb turned things around in style to book his place in the last eight.

Speaking to the media after his comeback win over Musetti, Djokovic gave his thoughts on Roger Federer's withdrawal, which has caused quite a storm in the tennis community.

While many believe the Swiss devalued Roland Garros by treating it as a practice event ahead of the grasscourt season, Novak Djokovic reckons Roger Federer did nothing wrong if he was indeed struggling physically.

"It was a bit surprising, but only he knows how he feels physically," Novak Djokovic said. "It’s a pity for the event, (as) it’s Federer after all, I believe everyone wanted to watch him for at least one more match. He is well within his rights, if he is having troubles physically."
Roger Federer after his win over Dominik Koepfer
Roger Federer after his win over Dominik Koepfer

Novak Djokovic took a bathroom break after losing the second set against Lorenzo Musetti. He returned a different player and dismantled the Italian over the next three sets.

The top-ranked Serb revealed the main reason he took the break was to reset mentally.

"If you really want to know, during the break I changed over the underwear and the rest," added Djokovic. "But you mainly use this moment to reset mentally, changing your environment. Even if it's a short break, you can have a few deep breaths and come back as a new player."

Novak Djokovic showers rich praise on Matteo Berrettini

Novak Djokovic will face Matteo Berrettini
Novak Djokovic will face Matteo Berrettini

Novak Djokovic will take on Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. The Serb reckons Berrettini's power-packed game can cause plenty of problems.

"Another Italian, I am sure it will be a nice match," Djokovic said. "Great serve and great forehand. Two great weapons. He finished the last year very strong and also started this year strong, beating Dominic Thiem in Australia, playing the ATP Cup very well and reaching the final with Italy. He has a lot of firepower in his game and a pretty good drop shot. In addition, he is very aggressive."

Novak Djokovic acknowledged that he would have to be at his best to stand a chance against the Italian.

"With his great serve he has a lot more easy balls in the middle of the court that he can penetrate through the forehand or he can throw a shot," Novak Djokovic continued. "He is very good on the net. He's a top-10 player for the past few years. And right now, the quarterfinals of a slam, you know, you have to be at your best to have a chance to win."

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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