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Federer gives Djokovic ‘little star’ of approval

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki (L-R), Canada's Milos Raonic, Switzerland's Roger Federer, Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Belarus' Victoria Azarenka pose with characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during Kids Tennis Day at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki (L-R), Canada’s Milos Raonic, Switzerland’s Roger Federer, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka pose with characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during Kids Tennis Day at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Novak Djokovic deserves a “little star” next to his name for a spectacular 2015 season that saw him win three Grand Slams among his 11 titles but the men’s game is not simply a matter of the Serb versus the rest, Roger Federer said on Saturday.

The world number one’s dominance has seen pundits line up to declare the end of the ‘Big Four’ — suggesting Federer, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray are unable to compete on equal terms at Grand Slams with Djokovic.

The Serb heads into the Australian Open a raging favourite to capture his sixth title at Melbourne Park but Federer gave short shrift to talk of a Djokovic dictatorship, pointing to Stan Wawrinka’s victory over him in the French Open final.

“It completely depends what you’re looking at. If you’re looking at (Djokovic’s) season, he was the most dominant player by far last year,” Federer told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“Then if you look at just who won the Slams and the Masters 1000s, doesn’t hold truth, because Stan won the French.

“Who’s had the most success? The top five guys really, with Stan, you know, Murray, myself, Novak and Rafa.

“Now the rankings are back to more normal again after Rafa’s worked his way back up.

“Yeah, I still think the same guys are playing very well. But, of course, Novak deserves like a little star next to his name right now because he’s been doing extremely well.

“Same for Stan, really.”

Federer, seeded third in Melbourne, was beaten in the U.S. Open and Wimbledon finals by Djokovic last year, as well as in the decider for the season-ending World Tour Finals.

However, the 17-time Grand Slam champion still showed last year that he has the weapons to topple the Serb, winning three of their eight clashes.

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