TOKYO - What is happening to Novak Djokovic these days is too important: the Serbian has a chance of winning the Golden Slam, something that no man has achieved in history. It is not surprising, then, that he confesses his relief at the absence of Argentine Juan Martín del Potro in the Tokyo 2020 tournament and his interest in asking German Steffi Graf for some advice.
“I’m relieved that Del Potro is not here, that’s what I wrote to him as well,” admitted the world number one tennis player during a press conference in Tokyo, where the Olympic Games will open this Friday.
Winner of the Australian and French Opens and the Wimbledon tournament, Djokovic has the possibility of closing 2021 with a Golden Slam, which is the sum of the four Grand Slam titles and the Olympic gold. He needs to win in Tokyo and, a month later, win the US Open. The only person in tennis history to do this was Graf, in 1988.
“I’m not in contact with Steffi, but if you could get in touch with her I would be happy to ask how she did it,” said the Serbian when asked by Around the Rings in Tokyo.
“I worked with her husband, Andre Agassi, a few years ago, and I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Steffi. I have great respect for her and for what she has achieved in her career. When I thought about the maximum achievement she has, which is the four Slams and the Olympic gold medal in a year, I didn’t think it would be possible ... “.
“There is a small chance that someone will get it again (...), but now it seems more and more realistic that this is one of the goals and dreams. It is difficult to compare the circumstances of when she played and those of now, but the mentality of a champion that she possessed is certainly something that inspires me, so I hope to be able to use it in my next matches "
Djokovic’s relief in the absence of Del Potro has to do with the Argentine eliminating him in the quarterfinals of London 2012 and in the first round of Rio 2016. It represents a kind of Olympic trauma for the Serbian, who had good words for the 2009 US Open champion, absent from the circuit for almost two seasons.
“I was also very happy and very relieved to see him on the tennis courts, because I saw some videos and images of him hitting the ball,” said Djokovic.
“After many knee surgeries, he had so many knee injuries ... He is one of my best friends on the tour, a fantastic guy, a great champion, and it is very unfortunate everything he had to go through with his body, so I hope to see him at a high level very soon“.
The Serbian, who will debut against Bolivian Hugo Dellien, said he is not sure if he knows his opponent.
“As for my rival from Bolivia, I don’t remember, I played with him once, or maybe never ... These types of opponents usually have nothing to lose, I’m going to play in the center court without fans.”
The record shows that Djokovic never played against Dellien. The Serbian preferred to avoid giving more details about his current affairs on the circuit and in the competition with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for being the most successful in history.
“I don’t want to compare myself to anyone, I have my own path, my own dream, and I don’t want to spend time and energy thinking about what will happen.”