TOKYO (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic has learned lessons from his previous Olympics and won’t be distracted from his quest to become the first man to complete the Golden Slam.
Germany’s Steffi Graf is the only player to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold medal in the same year, but the 34-year-old Serb is three-fifths of the way.
Djokovic must win the Olympic title in Tokyo, then the US Open in August to match Graf’s feat in 1988.
The Olympics, however, have not been Djokovic’s best hunting ground in his three previous appearances.
“I know it’s going to be boring for you guys to hear me say I’m going to take things very slowly and carefully and focus on the next challenge,” Djokovic, who only owns one medal, told reporters on Thursday. Beijing bronze medalist in 2008.
“But that’s the kind of approach I really need to have because in the past I probably wasn’t really experimenting with this approach, and it backfired on me.
“I started to feel that there were a lot of distractions around that influenced my performance.”
Earlier this month, Djokovic added the Wimbledon title to his Australian Open and Roland Garros triumphs in 2021, joining rivals Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in 20 Grand Slam titles.
In the opening round of the Tokyo Games, he will face for the first time the Bolivian Hugo Dellien, 139th.
“I know there is a lot at stake and I know there is history at stake,” he said.
“I am privileged and motivated to take on this position. I have worked really hard to be here. Let’s talk about history if everything goes well here after I finish the tournament.
“I feel good. Physically, mentally, I’m ready to give the best of myself. I have arguably had the best Grand Slam season in my sport so far. I couldn’t have had one. better preparation before the Olympics than I have this year. “
Some of the biggest names in the sport, including Federer and Nadal, have skipped the Tokyo Games, which have been delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Djokovic himself was undecided about his participation after organizers decided to ban fans from the stadiums.
“I haven’t experienced too many big tournaments in the past 15 years without Roger and Rafa playing,” Djokovic said.
“So it’s a little strange to be honest because I’m used to seeing at least one.
“But some of the best players in the world are still here … the guys who are in the top six, seven in the world and they are the biggest contenders for medals.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Ken Ferris)