Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Djokovic backs Federer in preferential treatment row

Djokovic backs Federer in preferential treatment row

World number one Novak Djokovic defended his great rival Roger Federer after Frenchman Julien Benneteau caused a stir by claiming that the 20-time Grand Slam champion enjoys a preferential treatment on the tour.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley also said the scheduling of Federer's matches for the evening was a response to fan demand to watch a "once-in-a-generation athlete", rather than any desire to cater to the sport's biggest star.

Anderson lost his final group match 6-4, 6-3 to Federer, but by the time the players took to the court they were merely playing for who would top the group and who would finish second, following Austrian Dominic Thiem's surprisingly easy 6-1, 6-4 win over Japan's Kei Nishikori earlier in the day.

Obviously, I don't know, 5-All, 10-All in the fifth set, at that point it's who believes more, who plays a bit better on the opportunities you have. Sometimes I get asked, 'do you want to play day or night?' Sometimes they go ask the agent. Following his defeat on Monday Cilic said of January's final: 'Night matches are always something the tournament wants him (Federer) to play.

"He deserves the special treatment because he's six-time champion of the Australian Open and arguably the best player ever", the 31-year-old Serb said. "I played one of the worst matches this year and also he was playing well‚ too".

A sort of mini-feud has surfaced between the freshly retired Julien Benneteau and Roger Federer, and you know the matter has crossed a certain threshold when the likes of People magazine start covering it. It's all good. I've had that problem for 20 years, in a good way.

Benneteau said that tournament referees were often nicer to Federer when it came to the schedule of his matches in an interview with French radio station RMC Sport. "I just wanted to show to myself and all the spectators the real Dominic Thiem". I won't let that get in my head, make me go insane because it should be something I'm excited about and not something I should feel extra pressure.

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Federer was more concerned with the way he rediscovered his form to convincingly beat Thiem, admitting his head had not been right in a straight sets defeat by Nishikori.

Second seed Roger Federer takes on fourth seed Kevin Anderson in the final round-robin match of the Lleyton Hewitt group at ATP Finals 2018 in London on Thursday, November 15. I don't think they were going one way or the other, for me or for Roger.

"Against Kei, instead of seeing things positively, I thought negatively".

It was the first time the two had clashed since Anderson knocked Federer out of Wimbledon in the quarter-finals.

I think that's maybe what happened to me, and in a very disappointing way.

"I don't even know why I didn't play well". I hope I can reproduce something like that. "Then as long as I don't feel like I'm taking a chance on my health prior to London (the ATP Finals), that's the key as well", Federer pointed out, adding that "I have to listen to the signs here this week".

Federer will now play the runner-up of Group Gustavo Kuerten, with Anderson taking on the victor.

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