Tokyo Olympics: Djokovic on Osaka lighting cauldron – It cannot be better for our sport

By Sports Desk July 24, 2021

Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron will have helped increase the exposure for the sport of tennis around the world, according to Novak Djokovic.

Osaka was given the honour of carrying the torch on the short final leg at the Japan National Stadium before walking the steps to light the flame and end the opening ceremony.

The four-time grand slam champion is the face of the Tokyo Games in her home country, creating extra pressure on her shoulders as she bids to strike gold.

Djokovic appreciates the absences of legendary names Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is a blow, but he believes Osaka's presence is crucial for tennis in the battle for media coverage at the Games.

"It cannot be better for our sport, you are representing yourself, your country but also your sport in the Olympic Games, you're trying to get the hype and the attention towards our sport as much as you possibly can, so we're all contributing to that in the Olympic Village," Djokovic said when asked about Osaka's role in Friday's ceremony.

"There's a lot of attention towards the tennis players which is great, from the other athletes which is very nice to see, very nice to experience.

"Obviously you don't have Roger or Rafa. They are big stars and legends of our sport, but still there's quite a lot of great athletes, top players. Naomi is a home favourite and a lot of eyes are on her.

"Being at home playing is a lot of pressure, but it's great for our sport just in general to see that there's a lot of attention towards it."

 

Djokovic was speaking after overcoming Hugo Dellien with ease in his opening outing in the men's singles tournament, the Serbian triumphing 6-2 6-2 in just over an hour.

The quick win allowed the recently crowned Wimbledon champion to avoid staying out for too long in the Tokyo heat, an issue that led to Daniil Medvedev calling for matches to be pushed back to later in the day, allowing players to compete during the evenings when the temperatures have dropped.

"I agree with him 100 per cent," Djokovic said of Medvedev's suggestion. "I actually asked as well.

"My team captain, Viktor Troicki, was speaking to the referee a couple of times. To be honest, I don't understand why they don't start matches at say 3pm.

"I've heard for tennis there is some kind of curfew they have to finish at midnight, but if that's the case, I've just finished the last match and it's not even 5pm, we still have seven hours to play. 

"They have lights on all the courts, they're going to make life much easier for all of us tennis players, I just don't understand why they don't move it. 

"It's actually for the television broadcasters even better, because the later you play, the better it is for the United States and the time zones in Europe.

"I don't know, maybe the ITF (International Tennis Federation) can give you a better answer to why they chose to be played in the middle of the day. I doubt they will change the decision, but we're hoping that they will."

Related items

  • Giron comes through Munar marathon in Sofia Giron comes through Munar marathon in Sofia

    Marcos Giron moved through to the second round of the Sofia Open, but needed 10 match points to overcome Jaume Munar 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-4.

    Giron lost the first set in a tie-break, however, the American fought back in an encounter lasting nearly three hours on Tuesday.

    Twenty minutes of match time came in the final game, which encompassed all of Giron's match points.

    Munar successfully staved off the first nine and had seven break points of his own. Yet his resistance was finally broken as Giron prevailed at the ATP Tour tournament.

    Next up for Giron is a meeting with Australian third seed Alex de Minaur.

    Eighth seed John Millman enjoyed a more routine 6-2 6-4 victory over Mikael Ymer, while there were also victories for Laslo Djere, Dimitar Kuzmanov and Egor Gerasimov.

  • Hometown favourite Nakashima advances at San Diego Open Hometown favourite Nakashima advances at San Diego Open

    Brandon Nakashima has been one of the ATP Tour's hottest players throughout the hardcourt season, and he kept rolling Monday before a hometown crowd. 

    The 20-year-old Nakashima rallied to defeat Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5 in the first round at the San Diego Open, setting up a second-round matchup with top seed Andrey Rublev. 

    After qualifying for the main draw at Wimbledon earlier this summer, Nakashima reached finals at Los Cabos and Atlanta in successive weeks, falling to John Isner in the latter finale. He then knocked Isner out of the US Open in the first round in straight sets. 

    Monday, he won 80 per cent of the points on his first serve, dialling up eight aces to just one for Fognini, who also double faulted 11 times. 

    Another Southern California native, Taylor Fritz, also advanced Monday, beating qualifier Salvatore Caruso 6-4 7-6 (2) to earn a second-round meeting with fourth seed Denis Shapovalov.

    It was a welcome reprieve for the world number 39, who had lost five of his previous six matches dating to a quarter-final win over Reilly Opelka in Atlanta. 

    Earlier, world number 24 Aslan Karatsev opened the day's action by defeating Federico Delbonis 6-1 7-5. 

  • Paire through in Sofia after ousting seventh seed Davidovich Fokina Paire through in Sofia after ousting seventh seed Davidovich Fokina

    Benoit Paire is through to the second round of the Sofia Open following a 6-4 7-5 win over seventh seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. 

    The Frenchman - ranked no. 49 in the world - marked his debut at the ATP 250 event by ending a three-match losing run, progressing after one hour and 37 minutes on court. 

    Paire, who recorded five breaks of serve en route to victory, will be up against either James Duckworth or Emil Ruusuvuori next. 

    "[I am] happy about the win," Paire said in his on-court interview. "It was not easy. Alejandro is a very good player, so I had to be focused on my game. 

    "I had to serve well and do my best and that is what I did and I am very happy and proud of my game today.  

    "I played well in the first game, it was good for my confidence. The most important thing is to stay on my game and stay focused. I was solid today so I am very happy." 

    Also in Monday's action, Adrian Mannarino was another seed to suffer an early exit, going down in straight sets to Gianluca Mager. 

    Miomir Kecmanovic came through a tight two-set contest to knock out Adrian Andreev, including taking the opener via a tie-break. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.