'Why not win both Roland Garros and Olympic gold'
The French Open title and an Olympic gold medal are the only major prizes in tennis to have eluded Novak Djokovic, and for the Serb, there is no point discussing which he would rather win this year.sports Updated: Feb 07, 2012 07:56 IST
The French Open title and an Olympic gold medal are the only major prizes in tennis to have eluded Novak Djokovic, and for the Serb, there is no point discussing which he would rather win this year.
"Why not both?" the confident Serb shot back when asked to choose, looking dapper in a suit and bow tie after collecting his Laureus sportsman of the year award in London on Monday.
As with most of the five-times grand slam winner's public appearances, the 24-year-old's swagger is tempered with a smile, suggesting he is not getting too carried away with his huge success over the past 14 months.
In Dec. 2010, Djokovic spearheaded Serbia to their first Davis Cup triumph then went on to win three of the four major titles in 2011, before outlasting Rafa Nadal in the longest grand slam final played to defend his Australian Open crown last month.
Jokes and smiles aside, when Djokovic addressed the question seriously, his response was ominous.
"I've learnt how to handle my schedule, how to handle myself on and off the court and to prepare for the biggest events. That is going to be the case this year," he said.
"I will try to set up my form for Roland Garros first of all, where I want to get the title and go all the way through, and then I'll start thinking about Wimbledon and the Olympics."
Djokovic has honed his craft alongside two of the game's most successful male players in 16-times grand slam champion Roger Federer and Nadal, a 10-times major winner.
The Serb's dominance in 2011 was briefly interrupted by Swiss Federer at Roland Garros, who snapped his 41-match winning streak in the semi-final.
Djokovic has never made it past the last four in the year's second grand slam and would likely have to beat Nadal to claim the title in Paris, where the Spaniard has reigned supreme in six of the last seven tournaments.
Should he come out on top on the red dust in June, Djokovic would join an elite crew of players to have won all four grand slams, comprising Federer, Nadal, Americans Andre Agassi and Don Budge, Briton Fred Perry and Australians Rod Laver and Roy Emerson.
Out of his contemporaries, though, Federer's record haul of 16 grand slam titles remains the benchmark, while Nadal holds the coveted Olympic gold medal from Beijing four years ago.
Djokovic has beaten Nadal in seven consecutive finals, including the title match at Melbourne Park, and is also set on taking the Spaniard's gold in London, despite some worries the Wimbledon surface may not be in great shape after the year's third grand slam in June and July.
"It's going to be interesting to see how the grass will recover, but I'm informed already that they have everything prepared," said Djokovic, who chewed on a piece of the turf after winning last year's final against Nadal.
If Djokovic's demeanour and play carry on in this vein, he will be taking a bite out of a gold medal come August.