Olympic medallist insists Novak Djokovic is not under pressure to win gold at Tokyo Games

Novak Djokovic

Former world No 2 Alex Corretja has insisted Novak Djokovic should not put pressure on himself to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, with his place as a tennis icon long since assured.

Djokovic is aiming to win his first Olympic title in Tokyo, as he attempts to piece together a golden Grand Slam, after already winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2021.

Speaking to Tennis365 at a discovery+ event, the Spaniard who won a bronze medal in the 2000 Games in Sydney believes Djokovic’s presence in Tokyo has boosted the profile of tennis in the Olympics.

Djokovic breezed into the quarter-finals of the men’s singles at Tokyo 2020 after beating Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Wednesday and he will face Kei Nishikori in the next round, with Corretja insisting the Serb needs to cash in at a moment when he is clearly a few steps ahead of all of his rivals.

“Novak felt in his heart he wanted to go to the Olympics. Otherwise, he would stay at home and get ready for the US Open,” stated Corretja.

“I am pleased that he decided to go to Tokyo. Tennis should be thankful that he decided to go and he should not feel extra pressure to win the gold.

“I don’t think he has anything to prove in Tokyo. He is No 1, he has 20 Grand Slams, more weeks than anyone at No 1, so he doesn’t need to win the gold to prove anything.

“Of course, if he is at 100 per-cent physically and mentally, he has a great chance to win, but it is different to win over best of three compared to best of five.

“Novak has arrived with a lot of power and although he still has the hardest part with very top level rivals like Zverev or Medvedev. No doubt it is a very attractive tournament and we can also have some surprises, but Novak is clearly the man to beat.”

Naomi Osaka feeling the pressure

Corretja also gave his verdict on Naomi Osaka’s exit from the Tokyo Olympics, after her shock 6-1, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Marketa Vondrousova.

“It is difficult for any athlete to compete after such a long time and so many things that Osaka has been through and so little preparation,” he added.

“Naomi had a lot of negative feelings before the competition started, imagine what it is like for her emotionally to have carried the Olympic torch at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Also, Naomi has the pressure to play for her country and to do her best and that obviously doesn’t help.”

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