Djokovic '50/50' on Tokyo Olympics involvement

By Sports Desk July 11, 2021

Novak Djokovic has admitted he is still "50/50" over whether he will take part in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus countermeasures put in place in the Japanese capital.

The world number one made history on Sunday by beating Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final to match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam titles.

Djokovic has won all three majors in 2021 and recently suggested he would represent Serbia at this year's Olympics, with the tennis tournament due to begin on July 24.

However, with organisers this week confirming spectators will be banned from attending events in Tokyo amid rising coronavirus cases, Djokovic is unsure if he will travel to Japan.

"My plan was always to go to Olympic Games, but right now I'm a little bit divided," he said after his sixth Wimbledon triumph. 

"I also hear that there's going to be a lot of restrictions within the [Athletes'] Village. Possibly you would not be able to see other athletes perform live. 

"I can't even have my stringer that is very important part of my team. I can't have a stringer. I'm limited with the amount of people I can take in my team as well.

"It's kind of 50-50 because of what I heard in the last couple days."

 

Djokovic has competed at the Games on three previous occasions, but unlike Nadal and Federer he has never previously claimed a gold medal, the bronze he won in 2008 being the best the 34-year-old has managed.

Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Roberto Bautista Agut, Denis Shapovalov, Nick Kyrgios, Simona Halep and Serena Williams have previously confirmed they will not play at the Olympics.

Switzerland's Federer, who won gold in the men's doubles in Beijing 13 years ago, has yet to make a decision on his participation.

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    Nick Kyrgios compared the crowd during his Australian Open first-round win to a zoo as fans copied a famous Cristiano Ronaldo celebration at almost every point.

    Cries of 'siuu' could be heard throughout much of the home favourite's straight-sets victory over Liam Broady, his first match since a Laver Cup defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas in September.

    The shouts were apparently mimicking Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo's famous goal celebration.

    There were similar incidents during Andy Murray's battling five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili, as the five-time finalist won his first match at the Melbourne major since 2017.

    The raucous crowds caused confusion as many observers wondered if Murray and Kyrgios were being booed on court, despite each player also enjoying huge support.

    Kyrgios later explained he was not surprised to hear the noise from the stands but was taken aback by how long they persisted.

    "It's just a stupid, f***, I can't believe they did it so much," he said after his 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory on John Cain Arena. "They were doing some Ronaldo thing. Ronaldo does it every time he scores.

    "It's like... I thought they were going to do it for like 10 minutes. They did it for two and a half hours, like, every point. I don't know why. It was a zoo out there."

    Murray had wondered if the crowd was turning on him during his epic 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 victory because he had been targeted during his practice session on Monday.

    "Initially, I thought it was [booing] because there were some people booing during my practice yesterday," he said. "I have no idea what for! 

    "But then, after a few times, it was like, no, they're doing that, I think it's like 'Siuu' or something that Ronaldo does when he scores. And, yeah, it was incredibly irritating!"

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    The 26-year-old would like to return to John Cain to aid his chances of improving his record against the Russian to 3-0.

    "It's going to be a hell of an experience for me," he said. "He's probably 'the' best player in the world at the moment. So I'm pretty excited, I'm excited for that moment. That's why I play the game.

    "I feel like those matches still excite me, to go out there and play the best in the world. That was always something I wanted to prove to people that someone like me could do, win those matches.

    "I'm not going to go into it with a lot of expectation. I'm going to go out there, have some fun, play my game. I have a pretty set-in-stone game plan of what I need to do to have success.

    "As I said, he's probably the best player in the world, he does everything extremely well. He's a hard worker, ticks all the boxes. I'm not going to even think about that now. To play it on John Cain would be – I'm just going to call it the Kyrgios Court – would be fun."

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    The three-time grand slam winner edged 21st seed Basilashvili 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in a first-round match that lasted three hours and 52 minutes.

    It is Murray's first win at the tournament in five years in what was his first outing at Melbourne Park since 2019, when he thought he might have to retire.

    Murray was playing on the same court where a retirement video was played after defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut three years ago.

    But the 34-year-old has battled back from injury setbacks admirably and last week reached his first ATP Tour final since October 2019 at the Sydney Classic.

    With Japan's Taro Daniel now standing between Murray and a place in round three of the Australian Open, the five-time beaten finalist is eager to make up for lost time.

    "It's amazing to be back," Murray said in his on-court interview. "It's been a tough three, four years. 

    "I have put a lot of work to be back here and I have played on this court many times and the atmosphere has been incredible. 

    "I have always had fantastic support and this is the court I thought I potentially played my last match on. 

    "But it is good to be back, winning a five-set battle like that. I could not ask for any more.

    "I would love to have a deep run here if possible. It's something I have not had at one of the slams since I came back from the injury and it is something that motivates me."

    Wild card Murray broke hard-hitting Basilashvili nine times on John Cain Arena, but he looked physically drained as the match dragged on.

    The former world number one showed incredible resolve to take the deciding set, however, against an opponent that had lost just once in seven previous five-set battles.

    "I will hopefully keep improving. There are things in my game I can definitely do better," Murray said.

    "I have played some of my best tennis here over the years. I feel comfortable here and I hope I can do well here this tournament."

  • Australian Open: Medvedev embracing the pressure but says Nadal remains the favourite Australian Open: Medvedev embracing the pressure but says Nadal remains the favourite

    Daniil Medvedev is happy to be considered the favourite for the Australian Open title but says Rafael Nadal remains the man to beat at Melbourne Park.

    World number two Medvedev is now the top-seeded player in the competition after Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday.

    Competing in his first grand slam since winning the US Open in September, Medvedev made a solid start by seeing off Henri Laaksonen 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-3) on Tuesday.

    The Russian, who lost last year's Australian Open final to Djokovic in straight sets, will now take on either Liam Broady or Nick Kyrgios in round two.

    He is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to follow up his maiden Grand Slam title with another in his next major appearance.

    Medvedev is not shying away from the spotlight, but the 25-year-old considers Nadal the real favourite for the trophy because of his incredible record.

    "I like pressure but last year I started well here in Australia in the ATP Cup and I managed to be in the final here," he said.

    "The tournaments in Australia are always really important for me. I like to play in Australia on hard courts. I want to do better here than I did last year but it's not going to be easy.

    "But I always say whoever is the highest ranked is the favourite so this time I will go with Rafa because he has 20 Grand Slams."

    The 20 major singles titles won by Nadal is equal to Djokovic and Roger Federer, who is also absent in Melbourne due to injury, as the most by a men's player.

    Just one of those titles have come at the Australian Open, however, with the Spaniard – who beat Marcos Giron in his opening match on Monday – going all the way in 2009.

    Nadal and Medvedev are in opposite sides of the draw and are on course to meet in the final, but many challengers await between now and then.

    That path became a little clearer on Tuesday as world number eight Casper Ruud withdrew from the tournament due to an injured ankle.

    Ruud had been due to face Alex Molcan in the first round, but his place will be taken by lucky loser Roman Safiullin.

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