Novak Djokovic has defended Roger Federer over claims the Swiss great enjoys preferential treatment on tour.
In an interview with French radio station RMC, Julien Benneteau, the 2014 French Open doubles champion, claimed the 20-time Grand Slam winner carried too much influence within the game.
Benneteau also voiced his belief that Federer was awarded kinder scheduling and referred to this year’s Australian Open where he played the majority of his matches during the night session.
The Frenchman also alluded to Team8 – Federer’s management company – which launched the Laver Cup and has earned the backing of Tennis Australia and the United States Tennis Association, suggesting there are conflicts of interest.
Asked for his views on the subject on Monday, after making a winning start to his ATP Finals campaign against John Isner, Djokovic said: “At the end of the day, in a way he deserves the special treatment because he’s six-time champion of the Australian Open and arguably the best player ever.
“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 on Rod Laver Arena.
“I really don’t see a very strong argument there. I understand Julien’s point, because sometimes it does seem that maybe certain players get more favoured year after year in certain tournaments.
“You kind of have to follow the pattern to really understand whether there is a case or not.
“Again, on the other side, you have to understand that also Federer is a driving force of tennis in terms of revenue, in terms of attention, in terms of all these different things.
“Julien and guys like him are also benefiting from tennis, because of Roger, because of what he has done for the sport.”
Isner was also in agreement and added Federer is “men’s tennis” and along with the other leading figures in the game should receive greater privileges.
“The top players, they sell the most tickets therefore they should get the most. So I don’t think there’s a favouritism system like that at all,” Isner said.
“I think those guys are the ones that, by and large, carry our sport in a big way and they deserve everything they’ve ever earned.
“They maybe should get more special treatment, because those guys, the top players, have made other players below them a lot of money. It is like the Tiger Woods effect in golf.
“So that is how you can look at a guy like Roger. He is men’s tennis in my opinion. So, he deserves everything and more that he’s ever had.”