Frances Tiafoe recently heaped praise on Novak Djokovic, saying the Serb's attempt to win the Calendar Golden Slam this year is "something extremely crazy." At the same time, though, Tiafoe also expressed his desire to be the one to stop Djokovic from creating history.
Djokovic has already won the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon this year and is now targeting the men's singles gold at the Tokyo Olympics. He will also be the favorite at the US Open later this year. Winning all of these titles will make the Serb the first male player to complete the Calendar Golden Slam.
The World No. 1 will open his campaign in Tokyo against Hugo Dellien. However, Djokovic is in the top half of the draw while Tiafoe is in the bottom, meaning the two cannot face each other before the final.
Speaking to USA Today, the American pointed out how Djokovic's determination to succeed on a daily basis is second to none. Tiafoe admitted he likes "seeing greatness" but, in the same breath, said he wanted to be the player to take down Djokovic at the Olympics.
“He’s a straight pro,” Tiafoe said. “His process every day is crazy. I’m not surprised he’s playing. He’s trying to achieve something extremely crazy this year, and obviously I hope I can be a guy to stop him. I love seeing greatness and if I can stop it, that would be cool. We’ll see. I don’t mind the matchup against him.”
I prefer playing Novak Djokovic in best-of-three matches: Frances Tiafoe
Singles matches at the Tokyo Olympics will be played in the best-of-three-sets format. This means players will have a better chance of upsetting big names such as Novak Djokovic, who has proven impossible to beat in best-of-five matches this year.
Tiafoe, who gave Djokovic a tough time at the Australian Open earlier this year, said he prefers facing the 20-time Major champion in the shorter format.
“I like playing Novak in 2-out-of-3 than 3-out-of-5,” Tiafoe said.
Olympic tennis has witnessed numerous shock results over the years, with the likes of Marc Rosset, Nicolas Massu, Monica Puig, Mardy Fish and Alicia Molik finding themselves amongst the medals.
In that regard, Frances Tiafoe also considers himself a "dark horse". The American, ranked No. 53 in the world, explained how tennis at the Olympics is a different ball game where each player is forced to play outside their comfort zone.
“I count myself as a darkhorse at any particular moment,” Tiafoe said. “It’s a completely different format, it’s a team event, everyone is super nervous,” Tiafoe said.
Also ReadArticle Continues below
“You’re trying to fight for a medal. It’s not like you’re with your whole individual team. It’s different. Everyone is out of their comfort zone and how do you get comfortable being uncomfortable? I feel like for me it’s kind of open and I’m just going to have a good experience and try to play my best.”