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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday November 14, 2019

Novak Djokovic knows a thing or two about handling a tough loss with dignity, and he proved that yet again when he took questions about Roger Federer after the Swiss had swiftly knocked him out of contention for the ATP’s year-end No.1 ranking and the Nitto ATP Finals last four on Thursday evening at the 02 Arena.

And in his answer to reporters, Djokovic helped us all understand why he has been able to have so much success in his career: He pays attention to his competition and, when he can, he takes inspiration from those that he aspires to bring down.

Tennis Express

“Well, it motivates me,” the Serb told a reporter with a smile after he was asked how extraordinary he felt that Federer was playing at the age of 38. “I mean, it shows me it's possible.”

Djokovic, now 33, still has time to break plenty of records of his own now that Federer is closer to retirement. But let’s be honest: Federer hasn’t been able to hold Djokovic back too much in the last decade and it took a near perfect performance from the Swiss to earn his first victory against Djokovic since 2015.

But Djokovic knows that there are always two sides to any great rivalry—the losses will come and there is no avoiding that.

And despite all the intensity of the rivalry, and the bitterness of his loss on Thursday, Djokovic still had the wherewithal to praise Federer and show him the ultimate respect.

“I mean, well, I have utmost admiration for him and everything he's doing on the court,” he said. “What he has achieved over the years and what he's still showing on the court is phenomenal. I mean, he's a role model even for me that I'm one of his rivals and, you know, one of the toughest opponents I had in my career. You know, looking at his career and what he still is doing, it just inspires you.”

Djokovic wasn’t thrilled with the outcome today, but he knows he’ll have opportunities to claim more hardware and probably even finish more years at the ATP No.1.

“I have lost so many matches in my life that I know how to move on,” he said. “This is no different. I mean, I played Roger now almost 50 times. Played Rafa, I don't know, 50-plus times. So of course every loss is painful, but when you play your biggest rivals, you know, that adds a little bit of an extra flavor to that, you know, to the win or to the loss of the match. But in the end of the day, you know, we're professionals and I have been privileged to play this sport in the highest level for many years. So I think that gives me an experience on knowing how to accept things, move on, and look for another opportunity.”

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