August 6, 2008 / 1:35 PM / 11 years ago

Togo's Loglo dreams of match with Federer

BEIJING (Reuters) - Togo number one Komlavi Loglo is desperate to be paired with Roger Federer, the world number one, when Thursday’s tennis draw is made.

Switzerland's Roger Federer attends a tennis practice session ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 5, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The 526th-ranked 23-year-old, along with El Salvador’s Rafael Arevalo, received an invitation to the tournament from the International Olympic Committee and is all set for the biggest moment of his sporting life.

“Whoever I play I will give my best but it would be a dream for me to play against Federer,” he told Reuters on Wednesday after practising at the Olympic Tennis Centre.

“Just being here is something I could not really imagine. When I found out I would be in the Olympic tournament it was a bit of a shock, I can’t really describe it.

“But to go on court with Federer, wow ... I would have no pressure on me. (Rafael) Nadal would be great too.”

Loglo, who began playing in Togo at nine and soon topped the country’s junior rankings, is now based full-time at the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Spanish Training Centre.

It was in Spain where he first met Nadal before their careers veered in vastly different directions.

“I met Rafa six years ago in Spain when I first arrived and we played in the same Futures circuit,” he said. “He saw me the other day here and said ‘how you doing?’, he recognised my face.”

For a player with a world ranking of well over 500 to mix it with the best at the Olympics is down to a Tripartite Commission consisting of representatives from the International Olympic Committee, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the ITF.

Zimbabwe’s Cara Black and teenager Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein also received invitations into the women’s draw.

“I play on the Challenger Tour so to be here with the top players in the world is incredible. I aim to enjoy it,” Loglo said.

“People keep coming up to me in the athletes village and can’t believe it when I say I’m a tennis player from Togo. But let me say, there are some great players in Africa who don’t get the chance to leave their countries.”

Loglo, the first African Junior champion from Togo in 2002 and a member of the country’s Davis Cup team, has been helped by the same ITF development programme that put Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis on the road to the big time.

He hopes that his Olympic experience will be the start of great things to come.

“I dream to do the best for my country ... play in grand slams. Everybody wants to win things for their country,” said Loglo who grew up watching his idol Pete Sampras on television.

“He was my favourite....I used to want to serve and volley like him,” he said.

Loglo has already played on Beijing’s Centre Court when he hit with Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer and is keen to do it again. If he draws Federer or Nadal on Thursday his wish will come true.

“If I don’t it doesn’t matter, but imagine that?” he said. “This is my big chance, win one or two matches it could change everything.”

For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" here; and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china

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