World No. 1 Roger Federer launches his Olympic preparations and his North American hardcourt campaign this week at the Toronto Masters, targeting Beijing gold as his top priority for the remainder of the year.
Federer, who lost in the French Open and Wimbledon finals to Rafael Nadal, will travel immediately after the Beijing Games to defend his US Open title in New York.
"If maybe I am a player who doesn't have any Grand Slams, maybe a Grand Slam would still do more for my own career," Federer told reporters on Monday. "But because I have 12 already, for me an Olympic gold ranks as high.
"I was very proud to represent the Swiss in the 2000 Olympics and really just missed a medal.
"Last time was quite disappointing losing the second round but nevertheless, going there was one of the biggest experiences in life.
"So as long as I can walk and play, I will always come and play the Olympics.
"Who knows maybe I will carry the flag.
"That would be a great honor as well; my birthday is on the opening day (Aug 8) as well so that's going to be nice, too.
"It ranks very, very high in my scale, absolutely."
While Federer has enjoyed his Olympic experiences they have yet to yield a medal.
At the 2000 Sydney Games, Federer lost the bronze-medal match to Arnaud Di Pasquale, then four years later crashed out in the second round to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at Athens.
Most of the world's top 20 players will be in Beijing, including Spain's Nadal, though the world No 2 does not quite put the same value on Olympic gold as Federer.
"A little bit less," said Nadal, comparing a Grand Slam title with an Olympic medal. "For us Grand Slam is different. Grand slam is special.
"Olympics are important but after a Grand Slam."
Becker: Nadal No. 1
The ATP computer says otherwise but Boris Becker believes Nadal has already replaced Federer as the world No. 1.
Despite losing to Nadal in both the French Open and Wimbledon finals, Federer has yet to be evicted from top spot, arriving at the Toronto Masters for the start of his hardcourt campaign having held the ATP's No 1 ranking for 234 weeks.
But Becker, who was in Toronto on Monday to play an exhibition match ahead of his induction into the tournament's Hall of Fame, declared that he and the rest of the tennis world were in agreement on who was the true No 1.
"If you watched the French Open and Wimbledon, there was a lot of talk about Federer going into the history books as the first man to win six Wimbledons in a row or Nadal being the first since Bjorn Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.
"The winner is known now and you have to give credit," said Becker, winner of six Grand Slam tournaments, including three at Wimbledon.
"In the world rankings there is still a No 1 called Federer, but if you ask anyone in the world of tennis, who is considered the No 1 player in the world it is the winner of the French Open and Wimbledon.
"There is a change in position at the moment."
Becker's ranking and the official standings could fall into line before the end of the season.
While Nadal's durability on the unforgiving hardcourts remains suspect, he has already demonstrated he is capable of winning on the surface, taking the Canadian title in 2005 and reaching the semifinals last year.
"I am happy how I am playing but I am still No 2 and have the same motivation to improve my tennis," said Nadal.
"I want to be No 1 for sure but right now all I want is to play a good tournament here in Toronto.
"It's nothing new for him to defend a lot of points."
Source: China Daily/Agencies