TOKYO (AP) — Novak Djokovic is aware of how shut he’s.
Not simply to creating historical past and changing into the primary man to realize a Golden Slam by successful all 4 main tennis tournaments and an Olympic singles gold medal in the identical yr.
Certain, that’s on Djokovic’s thoughts as he enters the Olympic match beginning Saturday.
However it’s the larger finish product that will be the results of such an achievement that’s weighing most closely on him — surpassing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to be thought of the best tennis participant ever.
The aim is so nice that Djokovic doesn’t even wish to take into account the results.
“I don’t wish to be a part of the talk. I don’t wish to be in comparison with anyone,” the top-ranked Serb stated Thursday. “It’s nonetheless a really lengthy technique to a possible historic achievement.
“I do know that there’s a lot of issues on the road. I do know there’s historical past on the road. I’m privileged and motivated to be on this place. I’ve labored very exhausting to be right here. … However let’s speak about historical past if the whole lot goes nice right here,” Djokovic added. “Proper now all focus goes to the following problem.”
In Serbia, the talk is already over.
Olympic committee chief of mission Natasa Jankovic launched Djokovic on the group’s information convention as “essentially the most profitable tennis participant ever.”
By successful Wimbledon this month, Djokovic matched Federer and Nadal together with his twentieth Grand Slam title — having opened the yr by capturing the Australian and French Opens. He’s the one one in every of them to have received every Slam twice. He’s the one one to carry all 4 main titles concurrently, one thing he did over the tip of 2015 and begin of 2016.
The one tennis participant to realize a Golden Slam was Steffi Graf in 1988.
“I’m not in contact with Steffi, however when you can join her, I might be delighted to ask her how she did it,” Djokovic stated, recalling how he briefly labored with Graf’s husband, Andre Agassi.
“Once I was desirous about her (Golden Slam) I didn’t suppose that will be achievable. However proper now it appears an increasing number of real looking for me. In fact that’s one of many objectives and goals.”
Making issues extra simple for Djokovic is that neither Federer nor Nadal are enjoying in Tokyo.
However that additionally was the case finally yr’s U.S. Open, the place Djokovic was disqualified for unintentionally hitting a line choose within the throat with a ball.
“I’ve not skilled too many massive tournaments prior to now 15 years with out Roger and Rafa enjoying,” Djokovic stated. “So it’s just a little bit unusual, to be trustworthy, as a result of I’m used to seeing not less than one in every of them.”
Djokovic will open towards No. 139 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia on the exhausting courts of the Ariake Tennis Park.
Half of the highest 10 males’s gamers usually are not in Tokyo, with Dominic Thiem, Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov additionally lacking for varied causes.
“However nonetheless, among the finest gamers on the earth are right here,” Djokovic stated. “(Daniil) Medvedev, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, (Alexander) Zverev, (Andrey) Rublev. These are the blokes are within the prime 6-7 on the earth and they’re the largest candidates for successful a medal.”
Djokovic had brazenly thought of sitting out the Olympics, having received a bronze medal on the 2008 Beijing Video games.
Ultimately, his need to signify Serbia and obtain one thing distinctive was too nice.
“It’s essentially the most particular, most historic sports activities occasion within the historical past of sport,” Djokovic stated of the Olympics. “Representing your nation, being a part of a collective group is one thing that I treasure. It’s one thing that encourages me personally and offers me loads of confidence and nice power for my very own private efficiency.”
Extra AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf