Novak Djokovic says his passion for Serbia is driving Olympic quest

Glory in Tokyo next up in 34-year-old's bid to secure remarkable Golden Slam this season

Relentless win machine Novak Djokovic has said that his passion for Serbia was the driving force for entering this year's Tokyo Olympics.

Djokivic secured his sixth WImbledon title earlier this month to equal Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal record Grand Slam haul of 20, and the 34-year-old is on course to claim an unprecedented Golden Slam in 2021 if he can win the Olympics and US Open.

Should he win gold in Japan - the one title that has eluded him so far - Djokovic could become the first man ever to win all four majors in a year plus an Olympic title. Only Germany's Steffi Graf, in 1988, has accomplished the feat.

But the Belgrade-born player has previously said he was only "50-50" to play in the Summer Games due to the coronavirus restrictions that would limit athletes' movements around the Olympic Village.

In an interview with Montenegro's MINA news agency, Djokovic - who has already seen Federer and Nadal pull out of the Games - said Croatia's former Olympian Blanka Vlasic had helped persuade him not to pull out.

Vlasic won the silver medal in the women's high jump at the 2008 games in Beijing and bronze in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

"It came down to patriotism and my feelings for Serbia," Djokovic said. "I am not overjoyed about playing with no fans present or about the various coronavirus restrictions effective in Japan, but representing your country in the Olympics is indispensable.

"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.

"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, though. conceded that he faces a tough chellenge to make history out by winning out in Japan and then New York.

"The Olympics and the US Open are obviously my biggest objectives for the remainder of the season, and it's going to be demanding," said Djokovic. "But I am full of confidence and motivated to represent Serbia in the best possible way. I am yearning for a medal in Tokyo, hopefully gold, and then I'll go to New York aiming to complete it all."

Gallery: Djokovic's 20 Grand Slam titles

Updated: July 19th 2021, 3:05 PM
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