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London – Roger Federer has set his sights on crowning his remarkable record at Wimbledon by winning Olympic gold on his favourite grass courts.
For the second time, and the first since the 1908 London Games, Wimbledon will play host to an Olympic tennis tournament, comprising men's and women's singles, as well as doubles and mixed doubles.
While Great Britain's athletes and competitors will enjoy home advantage during the Games, even they will struggle to match the levels of familiarity and comfort Federer enjoys at the All England Club.
The Swiss star regards Wimbledon as his second home after winning six titles on the lush lawns of south-west London and the prospect of landing a gold medal in the men's singles event has made the Olympics one of his top targets for 2012.
Rafael Nadal added an Olympic gold medal to his glittering CV when he won the singles at the 2008 Games in Beijing and, while Federer also claimed a gold in China in the doubles, the 30-year-old is determined to secure a first singles gold in what maybe his last chance.
Federer loves the atmosphere around the Games – he'll carry the Swiss flag at the opening ceremony – and believes the prospect of winning gold at Wimbledon is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.
“It's a beautiful thing that it's being held at Wimbledon. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be playing at Wimbledon at the Olympic Games,” Federer said.
“It's a big goal for me, there's no doubt about it. This is my fourth time. I don't think there's another player in singles who has played four in this era so I am very happy that I'm able to do this.
“I think it's going to be helpful that I've won an Olympic gold already. I'll feel a little less pressure.”
While Federer is relishing the chance to set his sights on two Wimbledon events this year, he knows the three-set format means there is a higher risk of being knocked by a player who suddenly hits a hot streak than over the five-set Grand Slam rules.
“The three-set format earlier on in the tournament, that is very dangerous. Who knows then who is in good shape and who is not,” Federer said.”
Federer isn't the only top star who can't wait for the Games, which start just three weeks after Wimbledon concludes.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic added: “It's one of my biggest priorities this year. I hope that I can perform well again and bring a medal to Serbia.”
In the women's event, French Open champion Maria Sharapova can't wait to represent Russia after missing the 2008 Olympics after shoulder surgery.
“For me, the Olympics are huge,” she said. “Growing up in Russia, the Olympics was the only thing that I ever really watched on television. Not so much tennis ... but sports like skating, (ice) hockey and gymnastics.
“To now see tennis on the map in such a big way and to know the history of Russia and how important it is to be part of the Olympics, it's something I really want to experience in London.”
There will be an extra opportunity for players to win a medal as mixed doubles is back on the Olympic schedule for the first time since 1924.
Although Federer and Djokovic plan to skip the mixed event, top female stars like Serena Williams and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova have declared their interest in taking part. – Sapa-AFP