Tokyo: World number one Novak Djokovic will begin the next step in his quest to become the first male player to complete the “Golden Slam” when he faces 139th-ranked Bolivian Hugo Dellien at the Tokyo Olympics in the first round.
The Serbian will have to win in Tokyo and then at the US Open later this year to achieve the feat that has so far only been accomplished by Germany’s Steffi Graf in 1988.
Djokovic, 34, completed the third step towards achieving the Golden Slam when he added the Wimbledon title to his Australian Open and Roland Garros triumphs in 2021 to equalize rivals Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal on the men’s record of 20 titles.
Players from 46 countries will compete for Olympic glory as competition kicks off at Ariake Tennis Park on Saturday.
Home favorite Naomi Osaka meets China’s Zheng Saisai in the first round of the women’s matches. World number two Osaka has not played since leaving Roland Garros in May after her first round match in Paris.
She left the Grand Slam on clay after being fined and threatened with disqualification for refusing to attend mandatory post-match press conferences over mental health issues and also skipped Wimbledon later.
Osaka, a quadruple Grand Slam winner, will be a big favorite to triumph on the hard courts in Tokyo with all of their major tournaments on the same surface.
Osaka versus Barty?
In the Olympic women’s singles draw, the 23-year-old Japanese will face world number one Ash Barty, who is making her Games debut against 48th-placed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.
Britain’s Andy Murray, who is aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive Olympic title in men’s singles, will take part in a successful clash against Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is ranked 15th.
Men’s second seed Daniil Medvedev will compete in Tokyo as a representative of the Russian Olympic Committee after the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offenses. The world number two will face the Kazakh Alexander Bublik, ranked 37th in the world, in the first round.
Medvedev’s compatriot Andrey Rublev has attracted Kei Nishikori, who will be Japan’s top medal prospect in men’s singles.