Novak Djokovic says he is not underestimating the threat posed from his peers heading into the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The world No.1 is seeking his first ever gold medal in what will be his fourth appearance at the Games after 2008, 2012 and 2012. So far in his career the Serbian has claimed one medal which was bronze back in 2008 in the singles competition. Djokovic is the only tennis player from his country to have ever won a medal at the Games following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Despite his lack of Olympic success, the 34-year-old heads to Tokyo as the favourite for many given his season. He has won the first three Grand Slam tournaments of 2021 and is currently on course to achieve the Golden Slam where a player wins all four major tournaments and the Olympics within the same year. Something which has only ever been achieved in singles by Stefi Graf back in 1988.
“The schedule is really rough but I feel that my preparations were good,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying to reporters earlier this week. “Also, I won a lot of matches recently, which always gives you extra confidence and energy boost. Playing for my country, it is the highest honour and privilege for me. I am an individual athlete, rarely we have the occasion to be a team. I am grateful because we were able to win the ATP Cup and Davis Cup, and I am missing Olympic gold now. I have the highest ambitions in Tokyo, it is not a secret that I am aiming for the gold medal.”
Whilst some top names such as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are skipping Tokyo, Djokovic says that ‘anything can happen’ in the tournament. Ten of the world’s top 20 players are still participating in the event, as well as two-time defending champion Andy Murray.
“Although some players from the top are not coming, there are also a lot of elite players fighting for medals: (Daniil) Medvedev, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas and (Alex) Zverev are among the favourites. They are the best, but it is a long tournament and anything can happen,” Djokovic commented.
“Furthermore, Olympics are specific in terms of pressure, expectations and emotions – everything is different compared to other tournaments and I know that very well, I felt it on my own skin in the past. Therefore, I will try to approach the Olympics in the same way that I approach other tournaments, so that I can stay focused on my goal.”
Now a veteran when it comes to living the Olympic experience, this year will be very different for Djokovic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, various restrictions have been implemented on athletes. Furthermore, all events held in Tokyo, including the tennis tournament, are being held behind closed doors due virus cases in the area.
“It really is a unique feeling. The village: best athletes in the world share time, we eat and sleep under the same roof… It is a valuable experience which spurred my individual career afterwards. It is interesting to see other elite athletes practicing, preparing, eating, and recovering. It is fun, but it is useful as well, the knowledge you get.” He concluded.
The Olympic tennis tournament will start on Saturday.
Djokovic’s Olympic record
- 2008 – defeated James Blake to win a Bronze medal
- 2012 – finished in fourth place after losing the bronze medal match to Juan Martin del Potro
- 2016 – suffered a first round loss to del Potro
- 2008 – lost in the first round (partner Nenad Zimonjić)
- 2012 – lost in the first round (partner Viktor Troicki)
- 2016 – lost in the second round (partner Zimonjić)
Davis Cup Will Be A Chance To Honour Queen Elizabeth II, Says Andy Murray
The LTA has decided to go ahead with staging the event following the death of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has paid tribute to the Queen by saying the upcoming Davis Cup event in Glasgow will provide an opportunity to celebrate her life.
Queen Elizabeth II passed away last Thursday at the age of 96 which has sent Britain into a period of national mourning. She was the longest reigning member of the British Royal family in history with her reign lasting 70 years between 1952-2022. The Queen presented Virginia Wade with the Wimbledon trophy in 1977 which is the last time a British woman has won the title.
Murray was knighted by the Royal Family after winning Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal for the second time. The former world No.1 believes this week’s Davis Cup will be used as a way for those involved to pay their respects.
“It’s obviously been a very sad week with the news about the Queen passing away, but I think here will be a chance for everyone to show how much she meant to everyone,” Murray told Sky Sports.
Ahead of Great Britain’s first tie against America on Wednesday, there will be a one-minute silence. The British team will also wear black armbands or ribbons throughout the event as a mark of respect.
“I’m sure there’ll be songs sung and a minute’s silence observed,” Murray continued.
“She obviously had an amazing life and I think here, these few days when GB are competing, will be a chance to celebrate her and everything that she did.
“I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to play in front of her and compete at Wimbledon when she came along to watch which was a really nice memory for me.”
Murray, who was an instrumental figure in Britain last winning the Davis Cup in 2015, will be hoping to help his team secure this place in the finals later this year. Besides America, they will also face the Netherlands and Kazakhstan in the tournament.
The host team will also feature Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski. They must finish the week inside the top two to secure their place in the finals which will take place in Malaga between November 22-27.
“It’s an opportunity for us to use all of the players in the team,” Murray commented.
“It’s a bit different [this time]. Obviously we have a very strong team, a lot of depth, which hasn’t always been the case over the last 20 years or so.
“Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski originally would play pretty much all of the matches together. Then I played the bulk of the singles and doubles matches for a period of time.
“It’s obviously great to be playing back in the Davis Cup, representing Great Britain again, I’ve always loved doing it, especially here at the Emirates.”
Glasgow is one of four countries hosting the group stages of the competition along with Bologna in Italy, Hamburg in Germany and Valencia in Spain.
The competition will take place between 13-18 September.
Great Britain To Play Billie Jean King Cup Finals After Glasgow Picked As Host Nation
The UK will stage the finale of the women’s biggest team tennis event for the first time in over 30 years.
The International Tennis Federation has selected Glasgow as the host nation of this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals following a successful bid from the British LTA.
A total of 12 nations will participate in the six-day event which will be held between November 8-13 at the Emirates Arena. A facility originally built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games that has since staged various events, including Davis Cup ties. It has a seating capacity of roughly just over 8000 people. This year’s finals will be held on indoor hardcourts.
It is only the fourth time Britain has staged the finals of the tournament which was previously known as the Fed Cup. It was previously held in London 1963, Eastbourne 1977 and Nottingham 1991.
“We are delighted to be bringing the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals to Glasgow. The LTA presented a very impressive bid as part of a competitive hosting process. They have successfully hosted Davis Cup ties in Glasgow, and we look forward to having the women’s World Cup of Tennis take place in front of passionate tennis fans from around the world in an electric atmosphere, at the culmination of the women’s tennis season.” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement.
Great Britain automatically qualifies for the final as they are the hosts. They will be joined by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland and USA. The format of the round-robin event will see the teams split into four groups of three. The will of each group will then progress to the knockout stages.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to build the profile of women’s tennis and focus attention on women’s sport. The entire team are very excited about playing in front of a home crowd and hearing some loud support across the whole week.” British captain Anne Keothavong commented.
The Russian Tennis Federation won the tournament last year but they will not be allowed to participate this year. Russian and Belarussian teams have been suspended from taking part in ITF team events as the result of the Ukraine war. Russia launched a ‘special military’ operation on February 24th and Belarus is suspected of supporting them.
The draw for the Billie Jean King Cup finals will take place at a later date.
(Exclusive) Albert Costa: “Davis Cup Finals Are Going To Remain The Best Of Three Sets”
Last week at the Barcelona Open during one of the many suspensions due to the rainy weather UbiTennis had a chat with 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa in the elegant clubhouse of the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona.
By Federico Bertelli, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
Born in Lleida, Albert Costa grew up as a tennis player at the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona and also won the tournament in 1997. When he retired from tennis he became the director of the tournament until three years ago when he handed it over to David Ferrer. One of the best stands on the centre court takes his name. Until the 1980s the tennis stadium was the Spanish team’s Davis Cup home.
Now, after stepping down from his role at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Albert Costa has become tournament director of the Davis Cup which is now advertised as “The World Cup of Tennis.”
UBITENNIS: Players have asked to be able conclude their season before playing the Davis Cup. As a result, the group ties which will determine the eight quarter finalists have been moved to September and the final knockout stage will unfold over five days. What can you tell us about this? Is it going to be a definitive format?
Albert Costa: It hasn’t been confirmed yet but likely it will be six days starting on Tuesday until Sunday. It is not yet agreed with ITF but, as organisers of the event, our intention is to play from Tuesday to Sunday at the end of November. As far as the future is concerned, we are trying to find the best solution. We are aware that the first years will require some fine tuning but I believe that in the next one or two years we’re going to reach a consolidated format, which will enable us to work comfortably and to give certainty to our stakeholders.
UBITENNIS: In 2022 and 2023 the Davis Cup will be played in Malaga. Can you tell us anything more about the selection process, considering that last year they were speaking about Abu Dhabi and then at the beginning of 2022 a neutral location was being considered?
Albert Costa: Actually we were in negotiations with Abu Dhabi, there was a concrete proposal. Then Malaga came up with a very attractive proposal and at that point we considered other factors which led us to choose the latter: tennis tradition and culture are at a different level in Spain and this was an aspect that drove Kosmos to choose Malaga. Other considerations are involved as well: an easier destination to reach for tennis fans. Europe is the centre of tennis in terms of countries and players, the ATP finals are played indoors in Turin. This last aspect is particularly relevant: in fact it is very simple to move to Malaga just a few days later and the environment is similar. Besides, Malaga is a city which is growing very fast and sees Davis Cup as an opportunity to gain visibility and to pair with its tourism.
UBITENNIS: The first edition of Davis Cup with the new format was played at the Caja Magica in Madrid, where the Mutua Madrid Open usually takes place. One of the advantages of the facilities is the possibility to use the three indoor courts simultaneously. Has the idea of playing simultaneous matches been put aside? Playing more than one match at the same time could allow them to go back to the 5-set format like in the old Davis Cup.
Albert Costa: I know very well the format of the former Davis Cup, but we have ruled out going back to five set matches. We haven’t taken into consideration the option of playing simultaneously.
UBITENNIS: But with the current three match format, the double counts very much, much more than before; amazing runs like those of Djokovic or Murray, who a few years ago carried their teams on their shoulders and led them to victory, now would no longer be possible.
Albert Costa: It’s true. With the new format, having a great number one isn’t enough. You need a balanced team with a good doubles. But in this way the format makes competition tighter and more open and potentially there is a great number of teams that can win the trophy. This makes it all more exciting. For instance Serbia, in spite of having Djokovic, who has dominated tennis over the last years, hasn’t yet succeeded in winning the Davis Cup with the new format.
UBITENNIS: Summing up, the 3-match format, two singles and one doubles, isn’t going to change.
Albert Costa: Yes, I confirm this is the direction we are taking: 3 matches in one day.
UBITENNIS: Speaking about the calendar, which are your expectations in terms of public, now that tennis fans have got two months to make arrangements for going to watch their team? Last year it was very complicated since the teams qualified for the quarter finals were known only one week before they actually played.
Albert Costa: Now it’s much easier. We are going to work with travel agencies in order to set up interesting packages. We are also going to work with the national federations in this direction. We are aware that environment and support are the distinguishing traits that make Davis Cup so special. Our target for 2022 is to have at least 1000 supporters for each team cheering their players from the stands. The environment is definitely one of the key factors to success. This means that we want at least 8000 supporters coming from the different countries for the final eight. If Spain were to reach this stage, the number would be even higher. Then we have to add the neutral public that simply comes in to enjoy tennis. Our idea is to create an experience which combines Davis Cup with the possibility to have a trip to the Mediterranean and enjoy the city.
UBITENNIS: The old format was no longer viable. For many players winning Davis Cup once in their career was enough, whereas Majors are never enough. How do you think you can succeed in attracting the best players to always play Davis Cup?
Albert Costa: when I used to play from 1995 to 2005, I remember that the players were already asking to change the format. It was impossible to dedicate four weeks to the Davis Cup, which often involved moving to different surfaces from the Tour schedule. With the new format the workload is different. The players of a team that reaches the final stage have to invest three weeks. In terms of surfaces and event preparation it’s all much simpler: the final stage of Davis Cup is played indoors, just like the rest of the indoor season. As the matches are played best of three sets the players are much less impacted in terms of physical engagement, which is an excellent thing considering the increasing amount of injuries we’ve seen recently. It’s true that in the past many players were content with contributing to winning one Davis Cup only. We aim at providing a comfortable scheduling so that players will be eager to participate every year.
UBITENNIS: Wouldn’t the event be made more legendary if at least in the final the matches were played best of five sets?
Albert Costa: I understand the historical point of view, but also the finals of the ATP Masters 1000 and of the ATP Finals were played best of five sets and now things have changed. Especially with the stress, both physical and mental, which modern tennis brings in. Players are already pushing their limits. It’s already three matches, which means at least six hours of competition. It’s enough both for the public and for the players. I believe that the value of a Davis Cup victory cannot be measured on the basis of the physical toll paid by players. It’s the overall value of the team that ought to be rewarded, which is also the reason why it is fair that the most well-balanced teams, with a strong number 1, a good number 2 and a good doubles, are the most likely to win.
UBITENNIS: Under a communication profile the claim that has been delivered since 2019 is that it’s a World Cup of Tennis. This theme has already been broadly discussed, but I’d still like to hear your opinion as a former player.
Albert Costa: Before the format we used to play with, home and away ties, Davis Cup was like America’s Cup, where the winner of the previous edition waited for the challenger selection series. Changes are in the order of things. I believe that going towards a World Cup type of format, with a group stage and a knockout stage is an excellent solution.
UBITENNIS: A last question: until 2023 everything is scheduled, in terms of format and location. For 2024 could there be an agreement with ATP Cup?
Albert Costa: We are working at it. Having Davis Cup at the end of November and ATP Cup at the beginning of January doesn’t make much sense. Kosmos and the other parties involved have to get into talks. We’re trying. Let’s see what comes out of it.
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