All eyes will be on world number one Novak Djokovic at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the Serbian eyes the first-ever men’s Golden Slam after enjoying a trophy-laden year. Djokovic is set to start his 2020 Games campaign against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien and is the hot favourite to race to a podium finish in the quadrennial event.
While there are other top contenders in the men’s singles event with men’s singles Olympic champion Andy Murray and men’s number two seed Daniil Medvedev also participating in the Games but Djokovic remains favourite to win the coveted gold medal and complete his Golden Slam.
Tennis player Somdev Devvarman, who represented India at the 2012 London Olympics analysed Djokovic’s chances at the 2020 Olympics as he said that it would be a tough task to beat the Serb in Tokyo.
“If I was a betting man right now, it’d be hard to bet against Novak especially in the Grand Slam. Now the thing about Tokyo obviously is is that he is going for the Golden Slam. And he does have a lot more work in this with the US Open as well. So the two biggest events, I think in terms of men’s tennis,” Devvarman told TV9 Digital during a media interaction ahead of Tokyo 2020.
The world number one has already bagged the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year and is racing towards a calendar Grand Slam and could even make it a historic Golden Slam if he wins gold at the Olympics and the US Open later in the year.
“The whole world is going to be watching these two because there’s a chance for some crazy history to be made. It’s only happened in the women with Steffi Graf in 1988. But in the men as well, 1969 was the last time a Calendar Slam was won by Rod Laver. So yeah, he certainly has the attention of the entire tennis world,” the two-time Asian Games gold medallist explained.
“Generally, the conditions at the Ariake Stadium in Japan are pretty quick, the ball moves through the air pretty fast, the courts are generally pretty quick. So it will give an advantage to some players who have big serves and big weapons,” he added.
However, Devvarman highlighted three points that could lead to a real upset against Djokovic.
“For someone to go out and beat Novak, a few things need to happen. One is they need to play the match of their life. Two, they will need to absolutely dominate and really go after their shots because there’s no other way to beat him. They need to serve really, really well. Otherwise, it’s really hard just winning baseline rallies against Novak. Three you would need no you would need an off colour Novak which is obviously possible. At the end of the day, he’s human,” the 36-year-old said.
While Djokovic will attract most of the spotlight, the women’s singles event also promises to be a thrilling contest. With some exciting talents on the cards, the women’s singles event will also witness world number one Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka take the court.
Barty will take on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in round one as she heads into the Games as hot favourite to win the gold. Devvarman backed Barty for a podium finish but explained why Tokyo 2020 will be a massive challenge for Osaka.
“I would say Ash Barty, for sure (favourite to win gold). Especially considering world number one, she’s won Wimbledon just now. And She really likes playing on those kind of quick courts,” Devvarman quipped.
“But I think a lot of attention is going to be on Naomi Osaka. She’s been in the media for different reasons. Whether it’s a Netflix show or the fact that she didn’t play Wimbledon and decided to opt out of the French Open the way she did. You would imagine that she’s put in a lot of time and effort to get back in the right mental space. But and also get up to play in front of home crowd in Japan. The question is going to be, you know, is she match-ready? Will she be able to handle the pressure of the media?, ” asked the Indian tennis player.
“I would say that there are several other players out there who are capable of winning, when we’re talking about upset, especially at the Olympics, I don’t think we have to look too much farther than what happened at Rio, with Puerto Rico’s winning their only gold medal at Olympics, and beating Wimbledon champs like Muguruza, Kvitova, and Angelica in the finals as well. So, you know, upsets are definitely possible. But that being said, I think the favourites are coming in pretty hot right now, especially with ash party,” Devvarman concluded.
The Tennis tournament at the 2020 Games is set to be held between July 24 and August 1 at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo. The events will feature 172 players in five events: singles and doubles for both men and women and the return of mixed doubles for the third consecutive time.
Watch the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on Sony Six, Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels starting 23rd July.