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Serbian Tennis Star Djokovic Favored For Olympic Gold Medal

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was declared the best athlete in the world for 2015, the third time he won the prestigious award.

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has said he is surprised that five of the world's top 10 players have pulled out of the Rio Olympics, making him the favorite to win the gold medal.

It would "mean the world to me," he said, having already completed the Grand Slam of all four major tennis tournaments numerous times.

His path to the gold was eased by the withdrawal of top-10 players Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, and Dominic Thiem.

"To be honest, I was very surprised," Djokovic, 29, said. "They had their reasons and I have to respect that. But it's still a strong field -- myself, Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal, Kei Nishikori...these kind of guys.

"I am sure we will put on a great show."

Djokovic won a bronze medal in Beijing in 2008 but fell short of a medal in London in 2012.

"It's my No. 1 goal. It would mean the world to me to crown my career with gold," he said.

Djokovic added that he was "glad that there are some Russian athletes" in the competition despite Moscow's doping woes.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP