Countdown to the Olympic Clay Season: Top Tennis Players Prepare for Tokyo Games

The waning clay season in tennis, which has its zenith in the European tournaments that start in Monte Carlo and culminate in Roland Garros, will last longer than necessary this year. The Games in Paris will be held at the Grand Slam facilities. And on clay, something that had not happened since Barcelona 1992. Tennis disappeared from the Olympic program in Paris 1924 and did not return until Seoul 1988. At first reviled by the stars (Swiss Marc Rosset was the champion in 1992), he gained prestige with the Andre Agassi’s gold in Atlanta 1996 and regained momentum after Rafa Nadal’s triumph in Beijing 2008. Now, Olympic laurels have become a coveted trophy, especially for those who have never been crowned.

At the charming Monte Carlo Country Club, Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz, world numbers one to three in that order, resume the battle for the ranking. But they also begin the countdown to an Olympic event that will heat up as the circuit progresses through Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros, it will be interrupted by the grass of Wimbledon to end from July 27 to August 4 in the Games.

All three have the Olympic rings on their heads, as they demonstrated in their previous appearances. Djokovic, who will debut this Tuesday (2:00 p.m., Movistar Deportes) against the Russian Roman Safiulin (41st), has the record for Grand Slams (24), the Davis Cup, but only one Olympic bronze (2008) in four participations. This year, gold is a goal. “I always talk about it (the Games) as a priority in the Olympic year. In the last ones, I didn’t arrive at my best level (Pablo Carreño took the bronze from him). It will be the first time on clay and playing Roland Garros before will help in the preparation, although later we have a small tournament in Wimbledon…”, joked the Serbian, who this year has not won any title, has broken up with his coach Goran Ivanisevic and He arrives at what is his home (he resides in the Principality) with “not very high” expectations and with the idea of ​​reaching the peak “at Roland Garros.”

Jannik Sinner, recent champion in Miami and winner of the Australian Open, recalled that the Games “are at the top of the list.” For him (22 years old and also residing in Monaco) it will be his first experience and he says that he will take Monte Carlo “as a training session” because the objective is also “to be prepared for Roland Garros and the Games.” On a surface, the dirt, less conducive to his tennis and on which he will debut on Wednesday against Sebastian Korda or Alex Davidovich.

Finally, an Alcaraz who has been training for days without forcing himself with a bandage on his right forearm due to discomfort, already knows that he will play on Wednesday against Felix Auger-Aliassime (6-2 and 6-3 to Luca Nardi). And he doesn’t forget the date either, in which he would like to partner with the absent Rafa Nadal. “It would be a dream to play doubles with him. Furthermore, I feel very Spanish and I would like to contribute with a medal,” he explained at the National Sports Awards.

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Monte Carlo, then, begins a route on clay that ends with the Olympic podium.

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2024-04-08 23:32:40
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