Novak Djokovic, one of the most anticipated stars of Tokyo 2021, had considered the idea of not showing up in Japan because he did not know what it would be like to play without a crowd. In the pre-Olympic press conference he said: "The absence of the crowd was a problem, yes.
In the end, however, I thought that the Olympics are always the Olympics. And I'm happy I decided to come. I don't speak to Steffi Graf regularly, but I'd be happy to hear how she did it! I have the utmost respect for you, for the indelible mark you have left in the history of tennis I did not think it possible that someone could even approach her business, instead it has become realistic, it has become my goal.
Di Steffi has always inspired me with her mentality: I hope to have it too and use it in my next mission. At the risk of being trivial, I want to face one day at a time and one opponent at a time. This is the approach I need to have, because in the past I didn't have it and I got hurt.
I am motivated to pursue history, I have worked hard to make it happen. But I prefer to talk about it if I have to. For now I want to focus on the present. We will be on the central, the public will be missing. I feed on the energy of the fans, which is one of the reasons why I continue to play even at 34 years-old.
Olympics are a unique experience, they make me feel part of a team, the Serbian team. I go to the pitch alone, but the energy of the other athletes, the one I breathe every night at the Village, gives me wings and pushes me to give my best.
There are neither Roger Federer nor Rafa Nadal: I haven't done many tournaments without them, it's strange not to see them. But there are still some of the best players in the world in this tournament. Luckily I'll tackle them later, so now I can focus on playing my way.
I feel good, physically and mentally: I had the best possible season, I arrive at this appointment with the best possible preparation: I hope to have a good tournament, also because on the field of the Games I have already won a tournament, even if it was not so hot."
Cori Gauff positive for the swab and out from Tokyo Olympics 2021
The next Olympic Games in Tokyo will be a truly unfortunate edition, postponed by twelve months due to the global Coronavirus pandemic and now battered by a series of forfeits and absences that do not seem to end yet.
In the men's field, the event board will see the absence of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini, among others; in the women's singles, Simona Halep, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will not play in Tokyo.
Unfortunately, the women's edition of the Olympics will now be staged even without the very young Cori Gauff, who managed to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon a few days ago before being stopped by Kerber in two halves.
"I am really disappointed in announcing the news of having tested positive for Covid-19 and therefore not being able to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games," said the American via Twitter. "It has always been a dream of mine to represent the United States at the Olympics, I hope to have many more possibilities in the future to make this dream a reality.
I wish the best to the American selection and a safe edition of the Games to all Olympic athletes." Coco, born in 2004, played her first quarter-finals in a Grand Slam event a few months ago at Roland Garros, when she was stopped by Barbora Krejcikova with a score of 7-6 6-3.
Gauff has won two career WTA titles: Linz in 2019 and the Emilia Romagna Open in Parma this year, winning over Chinese Wang Qiang in two simple sets. The young stars and stripes tennis player currently occupies the 25th position in the WTA women's ranking, but was also 23rd last June: to date she is the fourth American player in the standings, after Sofia Kenin (4th), Jennifer Brady (15 °) and Serena Williams (16th).
Coco also managed to win the doubles edition of Parma 2021, together with countrywoman Caty McNally (in the final over Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac).