ROGER Federer might not be Novak Djokovic’s dinner date any time soon but Switzerland’s six-time Wimbledon champion denied he bears any animosity towards the man he will tackle in the semi-finals.
Speculation the relationship between the multiple major winners is frosty was quashed by Federer, who stressed they had talked through a flare-up which occurred during a Davis Cup match six years ago. At the time of the clash between the Swiss and Serbia, Federer labelled the teenage Djokovic “a joke” after he sought treatment in a match against Stanislas Wawrinka. Federer questioned whether Djokovic was hurt at all.
Federer said then: “I don’t trust his injuries. I’m serious. I think he’s a joke, you know, when it comes down to his injuries.”
But that 2006 episode no longer appears a factor, and they head to their first grass-court showdown on Friday if not as the best of friends then at least on civil terms.
Looking back to the match in Geneva, Federer yesterday said: “I was just upset at him calling the trainer out for no obvious reason against my buddy, Stan, in a five-setter. That was it. We had a quick chat about it in Madrid after that and things have been cool for a long time between me and him. I’ve always respected him. Have I gone out for dinner with him? No.
“But I’ve had many meetings with him at the council and then now with the grand slams. He’s been nice to work with. We’ve met on several occasions because of other things together.
“I have no issues with him, and I hope you believe me.”
With Djokovic having since soared to the No 1 ranking, and Federer standing third, it would hurt the game if there was a bitterness between the pair.
A rivalry exists though, and after blowing away Mikhail Youzhny on Centre Court, 6-1 6-2 6-2, to the delight of a Royal Box containing not only the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge but Wimbledon royalty in Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, Federer underlined how much it would mean to him to land a seventh title.
“Obviously it’s a big deal. There’s no denying that,” he said. “It feels great being back in the semis. I haven’t been here in the last couple of years.
“Usually I play some of my best tennis in the last couple of rounds. Obviously I’m aware that Novak is the defending champion and the world No 1. That’s not going to make it easy to come through.
“I know it’s possible. I know I’m playing really well. I am aware things are going to get complicated in the next match.”
Youzhny was more animated than the typically ice-cool Federer, the Russian at one point looking up to the Royal Box and asking Agassi for advice. “That’s what Andre told me afterwards,” Federer said. “It was pretty funny, him speaking to the Royal Box.”
Federer met up with the royal couple after his sparkling victory, which was greeted with a standing ovation.
“Yes, I did meet them,” the 30-year-old said. “I met Kate for the first time. William I’ve met. They were very nice, very friendly. I was very happy to meet them. We had a bit of a chat. It was a nice conversation.”