Djokovic Ready To Chase After Olympic Gold

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (photo: @ITFTennis/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

When Serbia’s Novak Djokovic takes court Saturday afternoon against No. 139 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia at Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo, not only will the World No. 1 be trying to win his first Olympic gold medal in his fourth Olympic Games appearance, he will also try to become the second player after Steffi Graf in 1988 to achieve it while also winning the calendar-year Grand Slam. Djokovic has already won the first three majors in 2021: the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon Championships. The final major, the US Open, takes place at the end of next month.

Pressure? Maybe. Confident? Definitely.

“I feel great. Physically and mentally, I’m ready to perform at my best,” the 34-year-old Djokovic said during a Team Serbia press conference on Thursday evening.

“I’m going to be ready to fight – I’m the type of player who plays better the more the tournament advances, so I believe in myself. 

“I’ve had arguably the best Grand Slam season in my sport so far, winning three out of three Grand Slams, so I could not have a better preparation and lead-up to the Olympic Games than I’ve had this year. Hopefully, I can have another great tournament. 

“As for the pressure, in sport, all of us are aware of what pressure means and it is something we are not afraid of. However, the older you are, the more experience and the more matches you have behind you.

“Your self-confidence usually grows because you are aware of the challenges that you are facing and that you have met these challenges before.”

Djokovic is part of a 64-man draw that includes only five of the current ATP Top 10 (missing are Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Matteo Berrettini, Roger Federer and Denis Shapovalov). Each match is best-of-3 sets on a hard-court surface, which Djokovic has excelled on in the past, having won nine Australian Open titles and three US Open crowns – all on hard courts.

Djokovic and Dellien have never faced each other. From there, in the second round Djokovic would play the winner between Jan-Lenard Struff and Thiago Monteiro. The first seed he could face would be 16th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the third round, and a likely quarterfinal opponent would be fifth seed Andrey Rublev. From there, Djokovic could face No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev in the semifinals and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev in the finals. A lot can happen between now and the end of next week. After all, everybody’s going for gold, but Djokovic will have the whole world watching.

The men’s gold medal final is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 1. Great Britain’s Andy Murray is the defending gold medal champion.

An incredible debut for Kopriva

World No. 249 Vit Kopriva of the Czech Republic will always have Thursday to remember. In the second round of the ATP 250 Swiss Open in Gstaad, Switzerland on clay, Kopriva defeated No. 1 seed and World No. 10 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in his ATP Tour debut to reach the quarterfinals.

According to the ATP Tour, Kopriva is lowest-ranked player to defeat a Top 10 opponent since World No. 698 Thanasi Kokkinakis upset No. 6 Milos Raonic in 2017 at Queen’s Club in London on grass.

This week has marked a number of firsts for the 24-year-old Kopriva from Bilovec: First tour-level main draw, first Top 10 win, first tour-level quarterfinal. On Friday, Kopriva will face Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, ranked 96th.

Petra Kvitova: Carrying the Czech flag in the Olympic opening ceremony

Petra Kvitova, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Games in women’s singles in 2016, will be one of the Czech Republic flag bearers in the opening ceremonies, along with Czech men’s basketball player Tomas Satoransky.

Alexander Zverev: Looking forward to the Olympic experience

Ajla Tomljanovic: Making new friends in Tokyo

Meet Team Argentina

“Quotable …”

“Some say it’s bad luck that I get the number 1 in the world in the first round! I think and tell them, you entered the Olympic Games at the last minute when you didn’t even think you were going to play and it turns out that now you are fulfilling your maximum dream …”

– Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, who drew World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic as his first-round opponent in the Olympic men’s singles tournament. They will play on Centre Court Saturday.

What they’re sharing on social media

Misaki Doi / Japan

Barbora Krejcikova / Czech Republic

Elina Svitolina / Ukraine and Gaël Monfils / France

Saturday’s Olympics order of play