Novak Djokovic targeting Olympic gold in tennis event at London 2012

 

Novak Djokovic is targeting Olympic gold in London and his place among the sporting immortals.

The 25-year-old wept after winning a bronze medal for Serbia with victory over James Blake in Beijing four years ago, and he is hoping to climb to the top step of the podium when the medals are decided at Wimbledon next weekend.

Djokovic has always relished competing for his country, with his astonishing success in 2011 coming on the back of the high of winning Serbia's first Davis Cup title.

He has been lapping up the Olympic spirit since arriving in London a week ago, and he harked back to the Games' classical traditions when contemplating what the competition means.

Djokovic said: "The majority of athletes cannot remove the smile from their faces. It's just an excitement that is like no other.

"This is the most recognised event in the history of sport. In the past, when you won an Olympic gold, you were considered immortal and you got eternal glory, and I don't think it has changed much really."

Djokovic's Olympics will begin tonight at the opening ceremony when he carries Serbia's flag into the stadium, before a first-round clash with Italy's Fabio Fognini on Sunday.

"It is a unique experience, maybe once in a lifetime, and I will try to enjoy every single moment of it," he said.

"I'm aware there are so many other athletes who are equally deserving to be in my position and it is an experience that will hold a special place in my heart."

Djokovic took over as world number one after winning Wimbledon last year but was usurped by Roger Federer exactly a year later courtesy of the Swiss star's SW19 triumph over Andy Murray.

Federer is among those in action on the first day tomorrow, the top seed taking on Colombia's Alejandro Falla, while fellow Wimbledon champion Serena Williams meets Jelena Jankovic.

British pair Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha play their first singles matches, with the former facing a tough task against eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark while Baltacha meets Hungary's Agnes Szavay.

Laura Robson and Heather Watson and Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins play their doubles openers, as do Andy and Jamie Murray, who face Austrian pair Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya.

Andy Murray must wait until Sunday for his first singles match against Stanislas Wawrinka, who will have a day off after carrying Switzerland's flag tomorrow night.

It was one of the toughest draws Murray could have had, with world number 26 Wawrinka having beaten him four times in 10 meetings, including at the US Open in 2010.

Federer said of the clash: "It's a tough draw for both guys. They've played each other before, they're good friends and they've practised together the last few days so they're well prepared for each other.

"Obviously I hope Stan can win but I think Murray goes into that match as the favourite, and he goes into the tournament as one of the favourites."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific