• Tennis

Murray, Djokovic back Federer comeback

ESPN staff
September 4, 2013
Federer cuts a dejected figure after being knocked out of the US Open © AP

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have backed Roger Federer to bounce back from his disappointing year, which culminated in a shock exit from the US Open.

Federer, a 17-time grand slam champion, suffered a straight sets defeat by 19th seed Tommy Robredo in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows - the first time since 2003 that Federer has failed to reach the quarter-finals in back-to-back majors and the first season he has failed to make any grand slam final since 2002.

Bad to worse for Federer

Out, but is Roger's time at the top over? © AP
  • Can the 32-year-old ever be a truly viable contender for a grand slam singles title again? ESPN's Greg Garber asks the question.
  • Click here to read.

The 32-year-old insisted after his defeat that he is not considering retirement, and British No. 1 Murray is certain Federer will return to the top once he regains full fitness and rediscovers his confidence.

"I think a lot of players go through periods where they're not playing their best tennis, and that has obviously been the case with Roger since around probably Wimbledon time," Murray, who beat Denis Istoman to move in to the quarter-finals, said.

"He had a few issues with his back this year as well. He's still hitting the ball well. He still has the same strokes. It's just when you lose a few matches you are supposed to win, then you lose a little bit of confidence.

"That's huge in this game."

World No. 1 Djokovic, also in to the last eight after brushing aside Marcel Granollers, believes the critics need to give Federer a break.

"Roger did not play close to his maximum level so it's always a question of why is he not playing well," he said.

"People need to give him a break a little bit, because I think it's normal to expect that he's not moving as well as he did when he was No. 1 and he was so dominant.

"For me, he's still playing really well and definitely deserves to be one of the top five players in the world, no question about it.

"How long he's going to play? That's a question for him. But he's what, 32 years old? Tommy Haas is 35 and close to the top 10.

"So I think people are seeing Roger always being a top three, top two guy and competing for grand slam titles. That's not happening, and all of a sudden it's a huge surprise."

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