Serbian Tennis Stars Could Miss Olympic Buzz

Janko Tipsarevic London 2012 Olympics Team Serbia

Serbia’s tennis stars have arrived in Britain for the London 2012 Olympic Games, but some have voiced concerns that they might be forced to miss Friday’s Opening Ceremony.

Wimbledon 2011 champion Novak Djoković is set to lead his Serbian team mates into the Olympic Stadium on Friday but fellow Serbian tennis star Janko Tipsarević is concerned that travel times and match scheduling could mean that he might not even make the Opening Ceremony.

World-ranked number eight Janko told Wild Rooster: “I want to be there but if I am playing on Sunday at 10am or 11am, I guess I am going to skip it. But I hope that will not be. If I play at a decent time, I will try to attend the ceremony.”

Since arriving on Tuesday, Janko has been disappointed by some arrangements for tennis stars at London 2012.

Tennis Stars’ Travel Fears

Speaking after Team Serbia’s official welcome ceremony at the Olympic Village, he said: “It’s a shame that the tennis site is so far from here. Today we did not have a lot of traffic but we were still travelling one and a half hours. So imagine going back and forth every day. It would be really a nightmare. In a way we have been forced to stay in a house, which is a great experience, but it is not really the Olympic experience. The good thing is that we are all together in the same house.”

Even with extensive traffic easing measures in place, travel from the Olympic Park in East London to Wimbledon in South West London would mean long journeys and possible delays.  Although done in the interests of the athletes, Janko and some of his tennis teammates are disappointed that the distance of Wimbledon from the Olympic Village has forced them to move into rented homes far from where the main action will be taking place. Such issues are unlikely to bother Novak Djoković too greatly as he is known to favour a Wimbledon home when in London.

Games Lanes Are Not Enough

While Londoners might complain about the special Games Lanes put in place by Mayor Boris Johnson, and even grumble about signals being reprogrammed to keep traffic moving to key sporting venues, the long distances between venues can be an issue that has impact on team morale.

Team Serbia London 2012 TennisFor Janko, aged 28, to feel the unique atmosphere that comes with being in the Olympic Village and to integrate with athletes from other sports and even other nations is a major part of the Olympic experience. “Serbia won the World Cup in Dusseldorf two times as a team event, we won the Davis Cup two years ago, but everyone performs and plays better when they are behaving as part of a team,’ he said. “I know this is an individual competition but we are part of the team. Still, just staying with the guys in the same house means really a lot.”

The travel is not the only thing on Janko’s mind in the hours before the Games begin. London’s high temperatures seem to be playing on the mind of the young Serb. “I just came yesterday and so today was my first practice because I was playing the tournaments in Stuttgart and Gstaad,’ he said. “It is extremely hot here. It was never as hot as it is now for Wimbledon. The ball is bouncing a little bit higher and it is a little bit faster. The ground on the baseline is more like the second week of Wimbledon. It is not like the beginning of the Championships. But I am coming from clay at altitude of 1,500 metres so this cannot be more different for me.”

With the clock ticking to the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and some events already having taken place outside of London, it is clear that the thoughts of these elite athletes are turning to their own performance. London 2012 promises to exhibit plenty of sporting excellence, and Team Serbia should play its role in that line up.

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