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LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 30: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates victory after winning his Men’s Singles Second Round match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa during Day Three of The Championships – Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 30, 2021 in London, England. (Photo : AELTC/Ian Walton – Pool/Getty Images)
The Tokyo Olympics got a major boost on Thursday as two of the sporting world’s biggest stars confirmed their participation in the quadrennial event. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were both named on the list of players that will compete in the tennis event at this year’s Olympics.
Federer and Djokovic gunning for Olympic glory
Though Federer and Djokovic have combined for 39 Grand Slam titles, an Olympic singles gold medal is the only thing missing from their illustrious trophy cabinets. Federer earned singles silver in the London Olympics back in 2012 while Djokovic’s best finish came in the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he claimed the bronze medal. Federer did win gold before, though, in the men’s doubles event in Beijing.
Fatigue might be a factor for both of these legends, though, heading into this tournament. Djokovic and Federer are once again on a collision course in the Wimbledon Final which will take place on July 11. The Tokyo Games, which were postponed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are scheduled to start on July 23.
History beckons for Djokovic especially if he wins the Wimbledon title next week. The world number one is seeking the highly difficult “Golden Slam” this year in which a player wins all four majors and the Olympics. Only Steffi Graf has accomplished this feat before, completing the Golden Slam back in 1988.
Joining Djokovic and Federer at Tokyo is Andy Murray. The Scot has been in fine form at the moment, reaching the third round at Wimbledon. Though he has fallen to no. 118 in the world rankings because of hip problems, Murray managed to gain entry into the event as the player with the most Olympic and Grand Slam titles outside the direct entries. The former World No. 1 is the reigning two-time defending champion, capturing the singles titles in London and Rio de Janeiro.
A host of NextGen players are also competing at Tokyo later this month. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, who have captured each of the past three Nitto ATP Finals tournaments, will be making their Olympic debuts.
Also competing in Japan are Italian stars Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and Australia’s Nick Kyrgios. Carrying the torch for the home country are Yoshihito Nishioka, Kei Nishikori, Taro Daniel and Yuichi Sugita.
Osaka aiming for home success
Taking center stage in the women’s draw are Japanese star Naomi Osaka and world no. 1 Ash Barty. Osaka is looking to capture the gold medal in her native country after sensationally pulling out of both the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships due to mental illness.
Osaka will have her work cut out for her, however, as the women’s singles event in the upcoming Olympics features 17 of the world’s top 20 female tennis players. The only top 20 players to miss out are Romania’s Simona Halep and American stars Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams.
Another big name who is skipping the Tokyo Olympics is Rafael Nadal. The 20-time Grand Slam winner decided to pull out of Wimbledon and the Olympics after a grueling clay court season that ended with a gut-wrenching loss to Djokovic in the French Open semifinals.
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