Djokovic says he will play Tokyo Olympics “with great pride”

Serbian'a Novak Djokovic celebrates first round victory over South African Kevin Anderson REUTERS / Toby Melville

Serbian’a Novak Djokovic celebrates his 2021 Wimbledon victory over South African Kevin Anderson. (REUTERS)

PARIS, France – World number one Novak Djokovic announced Thursday that he will compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, giving him the opportunity to win the calendar’s first Golden Slam by a male player.

“I booked my flight to Tokyo and will proudly join #TeamSerbia for the Olympics,” Djokovic tweeted in English.

“It is with great pride that I pack my bags for Tokyo and join our national team in the fight for the brightest medals in the Olympic arenas,” he then tweeted in Serbian.

“For me, playing for Serbia has always been a special joy and motivation and I will do my best to make us all happy. Let’s go. “

The 34-year-old has already won Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles this year.

He needs Olympic gold and then the US Open to become the first man to win the Golden Grand Slam.

The Golden Slam schedule has only been reached once in women’s football when Steffi Graf swept the all-four majors table and Olympic gold in Seoul in 1988.

Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi have won career Golden Slams.

Djokovic’s path to potential gold in Tokyo had already been made easier by rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s decision to skip the tournament.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem is also absent.

Djokovic won a bronze medal in singles at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where he was beaten by Nadal in the semifinals before beating American James Blake for third place.

In London in 2012, he carried the Serbian flag in the opening ceremony, but was once again losing in the semi-finals to Andy Murray.

He was beaten by Juan Martin del Potro in the bronze medal match.

Del Potro also beat him in the first round in Rio four years later.

Djokovic’s announcement on Thursday came just four days after he questioned his participation in the Games.

After beating Matteo Berrettini for a sixth Wimbledon title and a 20th career Grand Slam title on Sunday, Djokovic admitted he calmed down on the trip, saying it was only “50/50” s ‘he would participate.

“Like I said, my plan has always been to go to the Olympics. But at the moment, I am a little divided. It’s a bit 50/50 because of what I’ve heard over the last few days, ”Djokovic said.

The Serb had always insisted he would think twice if the Covid-19 protocols in Japan became too strict and fans were banned.

All venues for the Games, which will begin on July 23, will be closed to spectators as Japanese authorities seek to limit the risks of Covid-19.

Foreign visitors were banned, as were family members of invited athletes.

“It was really disappointing to hear. I also hear that there are going to be a lot of restrictions within the village, ”Djokovic said.

“You might not be able to see other athletes playing live.

“I can’t even have my stringer who is a very important part of my team. I am also limited by the number of people I can accommodate in my team. I’ll have to think about it. “

The Olympic tennis event will also miss Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Bianca Andreescu – all big winners – from the women’s tournament.

Other missing on the men’s side include Britain’s number one Dan Evans, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, Belgian David Goffin and Canadian duo Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil.

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