Novak Djokovic, his Golden Slam bid ended for at least three more years, rested his head on Alexander Zverev as his German friend and opponent consoled him.
Zverev stated, “I told him he was the greatest of all times.” “I knew he was following history.”
Djokovic, the highest-ranked Serb, who seemed to be invincible at all the major tournaments this season, was defeated by Zverev 6-1, 6-3, Friday in the semifinals in Tokyo Olympics tennis tournament.
Djokovic wanted to be the first man to win all four Grand Slam tournaments as well as Olympic gold simultaneously. Djokovic won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in this year’s French Open. He also needed the Olympic title and the U.S. Open title to complete his Golden Slam collection.
Djokovic stated, “I feel so horrible right now.” “I cannot be positive right now.”
Steffi Graf, 1988, is the only tennis player who has ever won the Golden Slam. Djokovic still has the opportunity to win the U.S. Open in a calendar year, something that no man has done since Rod Laver’s 1969 achievement.
Zverev stated that Zverev won 20 Grand Slams. “So, you can’t have it all.
He’ll win the most Grand Slams, win the most Master Series and be the longest player at the top of the world. Zverev stated that he believes this to be the case.
Karen Khachanov will play Zverev in the gold-medal match. The Russian defeated Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain 6-3, 3-3.
Djokovic will be playing two bronze-medal matches Saturday. In singles, he will face Carreno Busta. Then, he’ll team up with Nina Stojanovic, his Serbian partner in mixed doubles against Ash Barty of Australia and John Peers.
Djokovic made a number of mistakes on a humid, muggy evening.
Djokovic led by a set and break in the second, before Zverev won the remaining 10 games.
It’s just sport. Djokovic stated that he played better. He turned the match around. He played extremely well. I don’t think I got too many stares on my second serve. My serve dropped dramatically. I didn’t receive any points for 3-2 up in second. My game fell apart.”
Djokovic hadn’t lost since being beaten by Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open final 2 1/2 years ago.
Marin Cilic, a Croatian doubles champion, said that “he’s gone these past few months without any loses and for him it is a big loss…just collapsing in end.”
Cilic noted that the extreme heat and humidity at the Ariake Tennis Park throughout the tournament may have caught up with Djokovic.
Cilic stated that although it was very disappointing for him, he is still an incredible champion and has many years to do great things.”
Zverev’s backhand winner on the line was so close that Djokovic couldn’t make it out of the way, Djokovic ran to the net and received a warm hug by Zverev.
Zverev stated, “Ofcourse I’m happy I won, but at the end of the day (how) he feels,”
Djokovic won his only Olympic medal in bronze singles at 2008 Beijing Games.
Djokovic returned to the court with Stojanovic just over an hour later in the mixed semifinals. Stojanovic lost that match too, being beaten by the Russian duo Elena Vesnina & Aslan Karatsev 7-6, (4), 7-5
Djokovic stated, “I feel terrible right at the moment in all senses but tomorrow hopefully fresh starts I can recover to win at least one medal for my nation,”
Djokovic had played two matches for the third day in succession.
Viktor Troicki, Serbia’s Olympic team coach, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the entire team was against Djokovic playing mixed doubles because they didn’t want the event to tire him out with so much on the line in singles.
Troicki stated Friday that he is certain that he will be stronger and learn more.
Djokovic, 34 years old, is the first man to win three major tournaments in one season since Laver.
He also beat his longtime rivals Roger Federer, Nadal, by winning Wimbledon this month for the 20th Grand Slam title. He was the only member of the Big Three to travel to Tokyo and Djokovic has been soaking in the OIympic experience like few other athletes.
The gold-medal singles match without Djokovic will lack star power. Zverev’s greatest career achievement was reaching the U.S. Open final last year, while Khachanov, the 25th-ranked player is coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Wimbledon and is now in his biggest final.
Zverev described it as “perhaps the proudest moment in my career so far.”
He said, “Because i’m not just playing for myself, I’m also playing for my brothers, my parents, and my family.” “But I’m also playing (for) everybody, all the (German), athletes back at the base, and everyone back at home.”
Men’s doubles saw the top-seeded pairing of Nikola Mektic (#3) and Mate Pavic (#6) defeat Cilic and Ivan Dodig (#6) in an all-Croatian final. This was Croatia’s first Olympic gold and silver, having previously won three bronzes.
Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus, from New Zealand, won bronze against Austin Krajicek of the United States and Tennys Sandgren of Tennys Sandgren of Sweden 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Venus and Daniell became the first New Zealand tennis players to win a medal since 1912. Anthony Wilding won bronze in singles for Australasia. Wilding, New Zealand’s only Grand Slam singles champion, had six titles and was 31 years old when he was killed in World War I.