PARIS (Reuters) - Tennis at the Olympics should be treated like a fifth grand slam and ranking points awarded, world number one Novak Djokovic said on Tuesday, after top American John Isner confirmed he would skip the games in Rio de Janeiro.
With no agreement in place between the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the two Tours, the ATP and WTA, no points will be available for those players competing for medals at the Games which start in August.
World number 17 Isner said that was a pivotal factor in his decision against representing the United States. Djokovic will compete in Rio, but he has some sympathy for the American.
“That was one of the debates, I think, whether or not we should have points in the Olympic Games,” Djokovic told reporters after his first round win against Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun at the French Open on Tuesday.
”To be quite frank, I don’t see a reason why not. You know, we have the best players in the world participating in arguably the fifth Grand Slam. It’s of that importance for all of us, even more, because it happens every four years.
“I would definitely encourage people to rethink of getting points out there.”
Isner is not the only player to turn down the Olympics, where Andy Murray and Serena Williams will be defending their titles. Rising Austrian Dominic Thiem, Australian Bernard Tomic and veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez will all be absent.
Isner said the schedule had worked against him, since the U.S. Open shortly comes after Rio and the Davis Cup quarter-finals just after Wimbledon. But the lack of ranking points had convinced him.
“I think the fact that they have no points, to be honest, was a pretty big factor,” Isner said after beating Australian John Millman in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday.
“Obviously the Olympics is not about the money, but no points, I think, hindered me a bit.”
Several top golfers, including Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen, have said they will not play in the inaugural Olympic golf tournament.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Larry King