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Defending Olympic gold top 2024 priority for Zverev

Defending his Olympic gold medal is the top priority for Alexander Zverev in 2004, but the world number seven says he is also ready to contend at Grand Slams.

The German brushed aside Karen Khachanov to take the men’s singles title at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 6-3, 6-1, having beaten Novak Djokovic in the semis.

It was a moment he still cherishes and the 26-year-old is keen for the Olympic experience again in Paris next year.

“It’s definitely something that I really am much looking forward to, as defending champion,” he said late Friday in Sydney where he is playing for Germany at the mixed teams United Cup.

Germany, whose team also boasts three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber on her return from maternity leave, meets Italy first up later Saturday.

“I think the Olympics are always very, very special,” added Zverev at a news conference. 

“It is probably the biggest event of the year, in my opinion, in my eyes, because the Olympics is once every four years. It is special in that regard.

“I’m definitely looking forward to being in the Olympic Village again,” and “being in these smallish apartments where you’re all together, just enjoying the time. That’s what I did in Tokyo. Kind of worked out very well,” he said.

This time a year ago, Zverev was still recovering from a serious ankle injury sustained at the 2022 French Open and he cut a disconsolate figure on his comeback at the United Cup.

But he slowly improved as the season wore on to reach the French Open semi-finals and clinch ATP titles in Hamburg and Chengdu.

“Last year I came to the Australian Open, and I openly said…, I’m not here to win the tournament, which is not the mindset I was going into tournaments usually,” he said. 

“I’m past that now. I’m number seven in the world. I won a few titles last year where I’ve beaten some great players, as well. 

“I can look forward to being a contender again. That’s what I want to be,” he said.

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