Bern, July 06: Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic's rise to become the top-ranked player in the world is good for tennis, according to the only player who has beaten him this year.
Roger Federer said Tuesday that Djokovic - whose record is 48-1 in 2011 - has earned his success.
”He deserves to become No. 1 after an immense start to the year,” said third-ranked Federer, who defeated the 24-year-old Serb in the French Open semifinals. “When you lose so rarely, your confidence carries you a long way.”
The 29-year-old Federer said it wasn't a big surprise that Djokovic dethroned Rafael Nadal after having beaten the former top-ranked Spaniard in four previous finals in 2011.
”And he's proved before at Wimbledon that he can play on grass,” Federer said ahead of Friday's start to Switzerland's Davis Cup tie against Portugal. “It's good for tennis that it happened.”
Despite Sunday's final promising to write a significant chapter in modern tennis history, the six-time Wimbledon champion did not watch it at home in Switzerland.
”Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch the final, but for sure it was being played at a very high level,” he said.
Federer lost in the quarterfinals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. The five-set defeat was the first time he wasted a two-set lead in a Grand Slam singles match, and just the third such reverse in his career.
The first came against former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the 2003 Davis Cup semifinals against Australia - the closest Federer has come to lifting the trophy.
Since then, Federer has won all 12 singles matches on national duty, the most recent against Italy in September 2009 to help keep Switzerland in the elite 16-nation world group.
The Swiss were relegated after losing last year to Spain and then Kazakhstan, when national hero Federer received rare criticism for skipping the tie.
”If I'm playing, it's a priority,” Federer said. “Our priority is to get back into the world group.”
Switzerland must beat Portugal over five matches on indoor hard courts at PostFinance Arena to earn a playoff tie in September.
Federer and 15th-ranked Stanislas Wawrinka are heavily favored to beat clay-court specialists Frederico Gil and Rui Machado, ranked 90th and 93rd respectively, in Friday's opening singles.
”One thing they have is that they have nothing to lose,” Portugal captain Pedro Cordeiro said of his team. “Everyone expects Switzerland to win the match.” AP