Paris (AFP) – Novak Djokovic said winning Olympic gold next year is one of his main ambitions as he returns to action at the Paris Masters next week after taking time off following his record-tying 24th Grand Slam title in New York.
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The 36-year-old Djokovic dashed back from the US Open to help Serbia into the Davis Cup quarter-finals on September 15 but then skipped the tour’s return to China, instead spending time with his family.
Rafael Nadal last month said Djokovic was the “best in history” after seeing his longtime rival overtake his mark for most major titles in men’s tennis this year with the Spaniard sidelined by injury.
Djokovic was reluctant to wade into what is an endless debate over who is the greatest men’s tennis player in history but admitted it was nice hearing Nadal’s assessment.
“I’m not going to say I am the greatest player of all times. It’s not up to me to say things like that. I leave it up to others,” said Djokovic.
“Obviously I’m very proud that my greatest rival could say such things, but I leave this discussion to other people.”
Only his defeat by Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final denied Djokovic a calendar Grand Slam, and the Serbian hopes next year will be another one to remember.
Djokovic dreams of joining Nadal and Andre Agassi in a select group of men to have won all four Grand Slams as well as Olympic singles gold.
He claimed bronze on his Olympic debut in 2008 in Beijing but has missed out on a medal in three tries since, coming fourth in 2012 and 2021 while losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the first round in 2016.
“My greatest motivation is still love for the game. I really like competing,” said Djokovic.
“Then, you know, I always have goals, you know, and to win another slam, to be No. 1 again, to finish the year as No. 1.
“Those are let’s say the big goals. Of course next year is Olympic Games. I really want to do well in Olympic Games, represent my country. Davis Cup is something that still gives me a lot of inspiration.”
Feeling refreshed after his recent break, which included a trip to the Ryder Cup in Rome, Djokovic is bidding for his seventh Bercy crown after losing to Holger Rune in last year’s final.
He will start against Miomir Kecmanovic or Tomas Martin Etcheverry in his opening match, with Tokyo champion Ben Shelton a potential opponent in the third round.
Alcaraz is also set to play after recovering from lower back and left foot injuries that led him to pull out of this week’s event in Basel.
World number two Alcaraz has played 72 matches on the ATP Tour this year, winning six titles, the most recent of which came at Wimbledon in July where he defeated Djokovic in a five-set final.
He lost in the semi-finals of the US Open, made the last four in Beijing before going out of the Shanghai Masters earlier this month in the last 16.
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