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Djokovic backs Federer in preferential treatment row

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“In the end of the day, in a way he deserves the special treatment because he’s six-time champion of Australian Open and arguably the best player ever”

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World No 1 Novak Djokovic leapt to the defence of great rival Roger Federer on Monday after claims were made that the Swiss enjoys preferential treatment on Tour.

Frenchman Julien Benneteau caused a stir during an interview on Sunday in which he said tournament referees were often kinder to Federer when it came to scheduling his matches.

Benneteau was particularly referring to the Australian Open where he said 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer played “12 or 13” of his 14 matches at Melbourne in the past two years at night, so avoiding the often scorching temperatures.

Asked for his thoughts after his 6-4 6-3 round-robin victory over American John Isner at the ATP Finals on Monday, Djokovic said Federer had earned the right for special treatment.

“In the end of the day, in a way he deserves the special treatment because he’s six-time champion of Australian Open and arguably the best player ever,” Djokovic told reporters.

“If he doesn’t have it, who is going to have it? People want to see him play on the centre court, and they want to see him play in showtime, the best hours, which is 7:30 at night in Rod Laver Arena. Julien and guys like him are also benefiting from tennis, because of Roger, because of what he has done for the sport.”