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Novak Djokovic has announced his stunning withdrawal from next month's US Open warm-up event in Toronto.
Just hours before his opening match at the Tokyo Olympics, Tennis Canada confirmed Djokovic's withdrawal from the hard-court event.
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Organisers alluded to Djokovic's hectic schedule for the withdrawal, which includes the Olympics and his pursuit of a calendar year 'Golden Slam'.
The World No.1 is bidding to join Steffi Graf as the only players in tennis history to win all four majors and an Olympic gold medal in the same year.
"It would have been fantastic to have hosted Novak," Karl Hale, tournament director National Bank Open, said in a news release.
"However, following a great run to his record-equaling 20th grand slam title at Wimbledon and his participation at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, we understand his decision.
"We wish him all the very best for the rest of the season."
Djokovic is three-fifths of the way to achieving the 'Golden Slam' having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year.
Graf is the only player in history to achieve the feat, doing so in 1988.
Hale also announced that World No.6 Dominic Thiem, No.20 David Goffin and No.29 Stan Wawrinka have also withdrawn.
Thiem is recovering from a wrist injury he suffered at the Mallorca Championships in Spain last month.
Goffin has an ankle injury and Wawrinka recently underwent foot surgery.
Russian Daniil Medvedev will now be the Canadian tournament's top seed.
Novak Djokovic kicks off Olympics gold medal quest
After Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron in Friday's opening ceremony, more than 20 sports from archery to weightlifting spring into action on Saturday.
Djokovic will launch his quest for Olympic tennis glory against Hugo Dellien of Bulgaria.
The World No.1 had cast doubts over whether he would participate because of the strict Covid-19 protocols and lack of crowds, but the possibility of the 'Golden Slam' proved impossible to resist.
"Without the key element of any sports events, the crowds, the fans, that energy, it's different, but it is still the Olympic Games," said Djokovic.
"I was in a dilemma for a little bit, but I decided to come, and I'm glad because there are many more things that are beautiful about the Olympic Games. So I will try to focus on those things."
Osaka's much-anticipated return to court was delayed by 24 hours after she was removed from Saturday's schedule, perhaps because of her appearance in the opening ceremony.
Osaka has not played since her shock French Open withdrawal over mental health concerns in late May, when she abandoned her Roland Garros campaign after the first round.
Bummer but no surprise with the Olympics.
— Christie Lee (@cledgley) July 23, 2021
Djokovic withdraws from Toronto. Thiem out due to injury, seems doubtful for the USO 🎾
— Olly 🎾🇬🇧 (@Olly_2021) July 23, 2021
— Rahul Vaidyanath (@RV_ETSports) July 23, 2021
SURPRISED IS NO ONE. the real question is just how long is Thiem out for
— sebastian antonio (@sebastianantonx) July 23, 2021
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