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London – Novak Djokovic admitted on Friday that Roger Federer will thoroughly deserve to reclaim the world number one spot if he triumphs in Sunday's Wimbledon final.
Federer will go back to the top of the rankings, a position he last held in May 2010, if he clinches a seventh Wimbledon title and 17th career Grand Slam title.
Victory will also see Djokovic, beaten 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Friday's semi-final at the All England Club, relegated to the number two spot having led the pack since winning his maiden Wimbledon title 12 months ago.
“Look, if he wins and becomes No. 1 it's going to be well deserved,” said the Serb.
“He's played fantastic this year. He's been so consistent. If he wins, he wins. There's nothing I can do about it. The best player will win this tournament. I'm out.”
Djokovic, who said he had been feeling unwell for the last six days, added that it had been foolish for critics to write off 30-year-old Federer, whose 16th and most recent Grand Slam title had come at the 2010 Australian Open.
Six-time champion Federer had also lost in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2010 and 2011, defeats which gave the doubters even more fuel for their attacks.
“He was always there. Last couple years he didn't win a major, but he was in a couple of finals and always semi-finals,” said the Serb.
“He's always playing close matches against whoever. This is tennis. Of course he was so dominant, and then you had Nadal who made a great rivalry with him.
“Then myself, (Andy) Murray, a couple other players who were young and who started believing they can win against him.
“That's what I think makes this era right now in men's tennis very interesting.”
Djokovic, who is still the Australian and US Open champion, but was edged out by Rafael Nadal in the rain-hit French Open title match in Paris last month, will now head off on a 10-day vacation.
Then he will plan his assault on the Olympic title, with the tournament to be played at the All England Club later this month.
Last year, the 25-year-old Serb enjoyed a phenomenal year, enjoying a 43-match winning run, which was ended by Federer at the French Open, and collected three of the Grand Slams.
This year, he defended his Australian Open title in a marathon final against Nadal in Melbourne but is now without a title since beating Andy Murray in Miami in March.
He then lost three finals to Nadal on clay – in Monte Carlo, Rome and Paris before opting not to play a grasscourt warm-up before Wimbledon.
“Comparing to last year people would say this year is not that great. But I won a Grand Slam, played finals, semi-finals, won a couple of big tournaments,” he said.
“I'm very satisfied with the way it goes. Maybe there's a couple of matches I'm disappointed about. But it's normal. It's really difficult to repeat what I have done last year.
“But I feel good about myself in general. I feel good playing in the major events. Confidence is there. I just need to continue on working hard and hoping for the best.” – Sapa-AFP