TOKYO, July 22:
Novak Djokovic knows how close he is.
Not just to creating history and becoming the first man to achieve a Golden Slam by winning all four major tennis tournaments and an Olympic singles gold medal in the same year.
Sure, that’s on Djokovic’s mind as he enters the Olympic tournament starting Saturday.
But it’s the bigger end product that would be the result of such an achievement that is weighing most heavily on him — surpassing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to be considered the greatest tennis player ever.
The goal is so great that Djokovic doesn’t even want to consider the consequences.
“I don’t want to be part of the debate. I don’t want to be compared to anybody,” the top-ranked Serb said Thursday. “It’s still a very long way to a potential historic achievement.
“I know that there is a lot of things on the line. I know there’s history on the line. I’m privileged and motivated to be in this position. I’ve worked very hard to be here. … But let’s talk about history if everything goes great here,” Djokovic added.
“Right now all focus goes to the next challenge.”
In Serbia, the debate is already over.
Olympic committee chief of mission Natasa Jankovic introduced Djokovic at the team’s news conference as “the most successful tennis player ever.”
By winning Wimbledon this month, Djokovic matched Federer and Nadal with his 20th Grand Slam title — having opened the year by capturing the Australian and French Opens. He is the only one of them to have won each Slam twice. He is the only one to hold all four major titles simultaneously, something he did over the end of 2015 and start of 2016. (pti)