Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray leap to defence of Roger Federer
Last Updated: 04/09/13 8:37am
Roger Federer: Failed to reach a Grand Slam final this year
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray joined forces to defend rival Roger Federer and predicted he will bounce back from a disappointing year.
The Swiss legend was knocked out of the US Open after a straight-sets defeat to Tommy Robredo on Monday and has failed to reach a Grand Slam final this season for the first time since 2002.
The 32-year-old, who suffered a shock second-round exit at Wimbledon, insists he is not considering retirement and will look to add to his record tally of 17 major titles next season.
His determination to continue has been back by both Murray and Djokovic, who insisted Federer was still playing well enough to compete at the highest level.
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The Serbian world No 1 said: "Roger did not play close to his maximum level so it's always a question of why is he not playing well.
"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."
Murray added: "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.
"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."