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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Novak Djokovic spurred on to compete by Croatia’s former Olympian

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Tennis World No 1 Novak Djokovic was unsure of competing at the Tokyo Olympics that get underway on 23 July with the opening ceremony. Strict COVID-19 guidelines resulted in absence of fans – foreign and domestic – from the Summer Games.

Djokovic, chasing a Golden Slam – winning all four majors in a calendar year and the Olympic gold medal – decided to go ahead with travelling to Tokyo for patriotic reasons.

The Serbian revealed he was persuaded to compete at the Tokyo Olympics by Croatia’s former Olympian Blanka Vlasic. Vlasic won a silver medal in the women’s high jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

“I came across Blanka Vlasic a few days ago and she said that people will only remember who won the medals, not what the conditions were like or whether there were any fans or not,” he told Montenegro’s MINA news agency in a televised interview as per press.

“Her words stuck with me and I am delighted that I decided to take part in the Olympics. I am inspired to play my best tennis and confident that I can win the gold medal after a tremendous run so far this season.”

Djokovic stated he was not overjoyed with no fans being present inside the stadiums and the various limitations on movement but focused on winning a medal for his country.

After the Olympics, Djokovic shifts focus to the US Open where he will attempt to go past Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal with a 21st Grand Slam title. He had gone level with them at Wimbledon.

No man in the Open Era has won a Golden Slam with the only player achieving this monumental feat being Steffi Graf in 1988.

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