When Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Rogers Cup to focus on the Rio Olympics 2016, there was only ever going to be one winner of the ATP Masters tournament in Toronto. Now that Novak Djokovic has completed the most obvious of title wins, the Serbian's focus is firmly on winning his first ever Olympic gold medal.
Going by the manner in which Djokovic has played over the last couple of years â€“ the blip at Wimbledon 2016 notwithstanding â€“ the world number one has a pretty good chance, and then some, of standing up on that podium, hands aloft, with a round gold thing jangling around his neck, especially considering Djokovic will have two bites at the cherry at the Olympics.
The 12-time Grand Slam winner will play in the men's singles, where he will start as the clear favourite for the gold medal, as well as the doubles, further enhancing his chances of clinching the one big title missing from his CV.
"I don't need to explain that every athlete dreams of being a part of the Olympic Games," Djokovic said after defeating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 in the Toronto Masters final. "I'm competing in singles and doubles. Hopefully I'll get at least one medal."
Djokovic has an Olympic bronze to his name, won in the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but such is his stature in the game now that anything short of gold will feel like a disappointment. Despite his early exit at Wimbledon, Djokovic is the undisputed best men's player in the sport. If he does what he has done over the past couple of years at the Olympics, even the likes of Murray and Nadal will find it difficult to stop him.
The path has become ever so slightly clearer with Roger Federer withdrawing due to injury, but with Djokovic, it is about seeing off the early round challenges. If the Serbian can negotiate past his opponents in the first few rounds, it will be difficult to prevent the world number one from standing on the highest step, because when it comes to big points and big matches, there is nobody, at the moment, better than him.
"It's a process like any other that has happened many times in my career, where I would start a tournament still feeling a little bit uncomfortable on the court and searching for my rhythm, and then, as the tournament goes on, I find that proper comfort level with shots, with the way I feel, with my mental attitude," Djokovic added.