Since the ATP ranking was established on August 23, 1973, a tennis player ranked number one in the world has never been consecrated in the Olympic Games. Serbian Novak Djokovic will seek to break an eight-date curse.
The first edition was in Seoul 1988. Although he was in one of the best years of his career, because he had screamed champion at Australian Open, Roland Garros and US Open, Swede Mats Wilander announced his withdrawal from the competition following the advice of his doctor, who warned him that his periostitis could be exacerbated. That edition was left to the Czechoslovakian Miloslav Mecir (12th), who beat American Tim Mayotte 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 and 6-2 in the final.
Like Wilander, American Jim Courier had also had an exceptional season (Australian and French Grand Slam champion) and he arrived in Barcelona in 1992 as the undisputed king. Nevertheless, after beating the Indian Ramesh Krishan and the Israeli Gilad Bloom in the first encounters, would fall in the round of 16 in straight sets against the Swiss Marc Rosset (44th), who would ultimately be champion and would become the lowest ranked tennis player in history to hang the gold medal.
In Atlanta and Sydney the leader was the American Pete Sampras, but on both occasions, for different reasons, he did not attend: first he argued an inflammation in his right Achilles tendon and then to the adjusted schedule. Had he presented himself, he would have done it in a great moment of grace, because in 1996 he had raised four trophies (San José, Memphis, Hong Kong and Tokyo) and in 2000 two (Miami and Wimbledon). Finally, in North America, the local Andre Agassi (6th) would be consecrated and in the oceanic the Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov (8th).
In the next three Games (Athens, Beijing and London), number one was the Swiss Roger Federer, who would not break the spell either. In 2004, despite having held eight times (Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells, Hamburg, Halle, Wimbledon, Gstaad and Canada), he fell in the second round to Czech Tomas Berdych. In 2008, when he had celebrated twice (Estoril and Halle), he lost in the quarterfinals to American James Blake. Finally in England, after five consecrations (Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Madrid and Wimbledon), succumbed in the final instance against the British Andy Murray (4th). The owners of the gold medal would be the Chilean Nicolás Massú (14th), the Spanish Rafael Nadal (2nd) and the aforementioned Murray (4th), respectively.
In Rio 2016, the number one in the world, just like today, it was Novak Djokovic. However, the Belgrade-born would fall in the first round against Argentine Juan Martín Del Potro and would quickly say goodbye.. The Scotsman Murray (2nd) would once again hang the medal desired by all, by beating the Tandilense in the final.
Nole, who boasts a fascinating 2021, because he celebrated at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, confirmed a few days ago his presence in Tokyo, where will seek to continue with latent chances of winning the Golden Slam. Although if it is celebrated in Japan, it will also break a 33-year-old mark.