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Ljubicic Salutes Nadal & Federer

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Nadal, Federer© Getty ImagesIvan Ljubicic believes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still the players to beat.

World No. 15 Ivan Ljubicic believes that while a changing of the guard in tennis will come eventually, for now Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal remain the undisputed top players in the game.

In explaining their dominance, Ljubicic highlighted their absolute consistency when they step on court. “When they play, they play absolutely their best, and it’s really difficult to beat them. It makes a difference at the end of the day that they never give up on a single point. They are always in great shape when they have to be in the big tournaments. They are able to compete everyday and really give their absolute best when they are on the court, which I don’t think was always the case with past champions.

“I always felt with [Pete] Sampras and [Andre] Agassi they had two or three tournaments where they were not good at all and they would lose first round. That’s not happening with these two guys. That’s why they’ve been up there for such a long time, because it’s really difficult to win one single game against them.”

Australian Open champion and World No. 3 Novak Djokovic is one player threatening to break the Federer-Nadal stronghold, and confidently dispatched Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals in Melbourne. The 31-year-old Ljubicic insists, though, that the Serbian must maintain his focus if he is to dislodge the Top 2 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings.

“That’s what happened in Australia, Djokovic just played better than Federer. If he can do that five times a year then he’s going to be No. 1 in the world. But otherwise he’s still going to be behind and trying to get them. Now it’s a question of how motivated he is, whether he can keep going like that, because for Federer and Nadal it’s natural to be focussed and stay there.

“A changing of the guard will come eventually,” the Croatian continued. “Roger is 30 years old this year; he’s not going to be there forever. I still think that Roger can win Slams and I still think that if he managed to win a Slam this year, or a couple of Masters 1000, he would still be in the Top 2 or 3. He’s not going to disappear all of a sudden. But definitely Djokovic, [Andy] Murray and these guys will start to be more difficult for Nadal and Federer.

“It’s just nature. I don’t think it’s Roger’s fault or something that Djokovic and Murray are doing better than other guys. It’s just natural that that change will come eventually.”

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