By Leighton Ginn
There’s no question that Novak Djokovic is a very patriotic person and cherishes representing his beloved Serbia whenever he can.
So the Olympics will be a huge goal for him.
But if I was advising him, I’d tell him to ditch Rio, especially if he wins Wimbledon.
The obvious reason is Djokovic will be one victory away from achieving the calendar-year Grand Slam, which has only been accomplished by two male players. He would be the first since Rod Laver in 1969.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment.
There’s no question that Djokovic’s heart is to compete in Rio and represent his country. In Djokovic’s previous two Olympics, he’s won a bronze in Beijing and didn’t medal in England, having lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the bronze medal match.
I’m sure he’s driven to win the gold, and he will be the overwhelming favorite. If Djokovic doesn’t play this year, he’ll be 33 by the time the next Olympics roll around, so the consequence could very well be never winning a gold medal.
At the French Open, Djokovic said it would be “unthinkable” to cancel the Olympics. But Djokovic was answering the question about the Zika virus, which is a good reason to avoid Rio.
This was before Djokovic won the French, to put him halfway to the Grand Slam. If Djokovic wins Wimbledon, then he should pull out of Rio immediately. I’m sure when he made his “unthinkable” comments, he wasn’t taking into consideration he would have a shot at the Grand Slam.
Naturally, Djokovic is a competitor. As well as he’s playing, he could do something only Steffi Graf has done, which is complete the Golden Slam if he could win the gold medal.
Keep this in mind with Graf. The Olympics came after the US Open, so there were no scheduling conflicts. And the Olympics was more an afterthought anyways.
Djokovic would have two weeks following the end of the Olympics and the start of the US Open.
But you also have to consider that Djokovic will have the physical mileage of reaching the finals in just about every tournament he plays. Then you throw in the mental toll from the pressure he will face at each tournament.
The US Open is the toughest Grand Slam on the calendar and it comes at the end of a season, and the whole season is a grind already.
I’d have Djokovic look at the Golden State Warriors. They went after the regular-season record and set it at 73-9. A great accomplishment and a feather in their caps.
But they didn’t achieve their ultimate goal of winning the NBA title.
Kind of makes that 73-9 record an afterthought. And assistant coach Luke Walton admitted that going after the record took a toll on the players as they ran out of gas. And many of the pundits were speculating about it anyways.
Now let’s get back to the Zika issue.
This is a major health risk. Djokovic has a chance to become the greatest ever.
You heard me, the greatest ever.
Zika is no joke and many athletes are struggling about going.
These are athletes who have spent their whole life training for the Olympics, which is the defining moment of various sports.
For tennis, it’s really just another tournament.
So Nole, just say no to the Olympics if you win Wimbledon.