Djokovic or Federer - who’s the daddy?

Sat Nov 8, 2014 8:41am EST
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By Ian Chadband

LONDON (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are seeded to meet in the final of the ATP World Tour finals in London next weekend, poised to help resolve tennis’s new burning question: “Who’s the daddy?”

Actually, Djokovic already knows the answer to that one. He may be the top seed and favorite in the season-ending classic which begins on Sunday as he shoots for a third straight title, but when it comes to juggling tennis and fatherhood, this new dad accepts father-of-four Federer is still the undisputed champ.

“I’m still far off from him! Four kids and it’s pretty amazing to still play at such a high level as he does,” enthused Djokovic, as he marveled at how Federer seems to have rediscovered his most ethereal form in the months following the birth of his and wife Mirka’s second set of twins in May.

“I understand what an effort it is with one kid. With four I can’t imagine!" Maybe, but Djokovic has made a fairly extraordinary start to life as a racket-wielding dad, winning the Masters title in Paris last weekend in his first tournament since he and wife Jelena celebrated the birth of Stefan in October. He won with ease, too. “Without dropping a set. We should be making more kids I guess, in future,” he smiled, before conceding that Jelena might not be overly impressed by these public musings.

Already, though, Djokovic reckoned he could feel a difference in his psyche, just as Federer himself noted he had experienced after his first set of twins, Myla and Charlene, were born in 2009. "Certain things change, psychologically, when you’re playing for someone. And someone who is your son. It gives you new motivation,” noted Djokovic, whose form had slipped from his highest standards following his Wimbledon triumph as he was perhaps distracted by the thought of the impending birth.

The truth is that it may take well into next season before Djokovic can properly gauge the true impact of Stefan’s arrival on his career but he says he has no hesitation in seeking tips from Federer about how to handle some of the practical and logistical problems that go with having children in tow on the global circuit.

"When we talked in Paris and China, he advised me about certain things involved in traveling and so forth. I’ve taken it into account and hopefully I can organize my life as well as he has,” said Djokovic. It makes sense to tap into Federer’s expertise because, as in most things, the 33-year-old appears to make this juggling act seem preposterously easy.

Since Lennart and Leo Federer made their bow in May, it certainly appears to have helped inspire their old man to the point where the seemingly ageless Swiss is now challenging Djokovic for the end-of-season world number one spot. Explaining how he somehow manages to successfully mix the demands of fatherhood with his preparations, Federer shrugged that much depended on the rigors of his schedule.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia shakes hands with Roger Federer of Switzerland after defeating him in their men's singles finals tennis match on Centre Court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London July 6, 2014.          REUTERS/Sang Tan/Pool