TOKYO – Novak Djokovic came to the Tokyo Olympics with the aim of a Golden Slam. He will go without a medal and will need time to recover from a grueling performance in extreme conditions that did not live up to expectations.
In the 6: 4, 6: 7 (6), 6: 3 defeat against Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain in the bronze match of the tennis tournament on Saturday, the first-placed Djokovic lost prudence and abused his racket several times.
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It was Djokovic’s third defeat in two days and it came less than 24 hours after he was beaten by Alexander Zverev from Germany in the singles semi-finals. This ended his application for a Golden Slam, which in the same year won all four Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold.
“I just didn’t deliver yesterday and today. The tennis level has dropped. Also because of exhaustion – mentally and physically,” said Djokovic. “I gave it” [my] whatever I left in the tank that wasn’t that much. ”
He should be back on the field for one final game in Tokyo later on Saturday. He and the Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic should compete in mixed doubles against the Australian duo Ash Barty and John Peers for the bronze medal. However, Djokovic retired from that game due to a left shoulder injury and gave Australia the bronze medal.
“I’m sorry Nina can’t play but my body just gave up,” said Djokovic, adding that he has “multiple” injuries. “I played under medication, in incredible pain and exhaustion.”
He played a total of 16 sets in seven games in four days.
Djokovic’s frustration was reflected in his behavior on the pitch in the game against Carreno Busta.
After saving a match point in the tie-break of the second set, Djokovic tossed his racket across five rows of seats after failing to reach a stop-volley winner from Carreno Busta to a long rally in the opening game of the third.
A few games later, when Carreno Busta broke his serve to take control of the decisive set, Djokovic lost his cool again and slammed his stick against the net post while changing sides. Then he picked up the tattered bat and threw it into the photographer’s pit.
“It must be part of who I am,” said Djokovic. “I don’t like these things. I’m sorry to send this type of message, but we are all human and sometimes it is difficult to control your emotions. ”
Djokovic received a verbal warning for the net post incident, but Carreno Busta appeared to ask the chair umpire why it wasn’t a point penalty as it was the second case of racket abuse. However, the referee had not warned Djokovic of the first incident.
Since it was practically all week at Ariake Tennis Park, heat was a major factor, with the temperature rising to 32 ° C and the stifling humidity feeling like 38 ° C.
Both Djokovic and Carreno Busta put ice packs around their necks when converting. Djokovic also grabbed a rubber hose that was blowing cool air and tucked it into his shirt.
Carreno Busta will have to wait until Sunday to win his bronze medal after Zverev takes on Russian Karen Khachanov in the men’s final. That was, of course, the game Djokovic expected to play.
Djokovic won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon that year and needed the Olympic and US Open titles to complete the Golden Slam collection.
In 1988, Steffi Graf remains the only tennis player to have reached the Golden Slam. But Djokovic can still reach the Grand Slam of the calendar year by winning the US Open – something that no one has achieved since Rod Laver in 1969.
The US Open will begin in a month.
Djokovic said he hoped his efforts in Tokyo failed [a] Problem ” for him at the US Open. Then he added, “This is something I’m not sure about right now.”
Keeping his temper under control has previously been an issue for Djokovic, who was disqualified at the US Open last year after accidentally punching a line judge in the throat with a ball during a fourth-round match against Carreno Busta.
Carreno Busta reached the semifinals of the US Open for his best result in a major.
Now eleventh-placed Carreno Busta has won an Olympic medal for yet another breakthrough – a moment he cherished by falling on his back next to the Olympic rings printed on the pitch after Djokovic scored a forehand on the Spaniard’s sixth match point had.
Djokovic’s only Olympic medal remains a bronze in singles from 2008 – his first Olympic Games.
“I don’t regret coming to the Olympics at all,” said Djokovic. “Everything happens for a reason, and [I’ve] had some heartbreaking defeats in the Olympics and a few major tournaments in my career. And I know that these losses have usually made me stronger. “
Djokovic, 34, said he would try to “move on” to the next Olympics in Paris in three years.
“I know I will recover,” he said. “I will fight for my country to win medals.”