Living the Olympic dream

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01: Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot against Lleyton Hewitt of Australia during the third round of Men's Singles Tennis on Day 5 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wimbledon on August 1, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
By Ben Fisher, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.
 
TORONTO - It’s tough to feel sorry for top-ranked ATP players. After all, they travel the world being treated like royalty while staying in some of the finest hotels as they earn money by playing a sport.
 
Of course, their globetrotting is hardly a vacation. These are athletes looking to avoid succumbing to the grind of the Tour schedule and then filling any additional spare time with media/sponsor commitments. In other words, these guys aren’t exactly stopping by art galleries and museums.
 
The Olympic Games, however, are an entirely different kind of commitment. There is an attached understanding of the event as a rare, unique athletic experience beyond being merely another tournament.
 
The Emirates Airline US Open Series caught up with a few Olympians who were coming into Toronto, site of this week’s Rogers Cup, fresh from the London Games.
 
Novak Djokovic
 
Result: Lost bronze medal match in singles; lost first round in doubles with Victor Troicki
 
His Experience: "I had an unforgettable experience in the opening ceremony being selected as flag bearer for my country. […] Even though I missed the chance to win a medal, I still enjoyed the whole experience. […] We, all [Serbian] men’s tennis players, we all stayed at the same house, so we supported each other, we motivated each other and it was, in a way, a Davis Cup experience."
 
Julien Benneteau
 
Result: Reached second round in singles; won bronze medal in doubles with Richard Gasquet
 
His Experience: "For me, it was an amazing experience. Being in the opening ceremony was a great moment, and winning an Olympic medal was a dream come true. For the French, it was so great because we sent two separate teams and all won medals [Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra won silver]. We were all together in the same house, so we could share it with the people that worked with us. […] We celebrated with the medals on Saturday night in London and Sunday night in Paris with some friends and family."
 
Milos Raonic
 
Result: Reached second round in singles
 
His Experience: "The best part [of the Olympics] was being around other athletes. […] There was a games room, where you could meet other athletes and play. I was spending a lot of time with other Canadian athletes. I went and I actually even met the Montenegrin athletes, Serbian athletes – everybody, sort of. I think the most – let’s say – enticing and exciting part about the whole experience is the feeling of being surrounded by so much greatness." 
 
John Isner
 
Result: Reached quarter-finals in singles; lost first round in doubles with Andy Roddick?
His Experience: "It was tough to get around too much, because it would’ve taken three hours to get around to any other events from our hotel [at Wimbledon]. It was neat, for sure. I wasn’t happy with how I played at Wimbledon at all, actually, but I played a lot better at the Olympics. The grass court season started off pretty slowly for me, but I think I finished up at 8-2, which isn’t too bad."
 
 
 

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