July 31, (THEWILL) – The unbelievable upset of Novak Djokovic being beaten by Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the tennis men’s single events at the ongoing Olympics in Tokyo was made worse after the highest ranked player also lost the bronze medal match in similar fashion to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4 7-6 6-3 on Saturday.
All the promise of a Golden Slam that was buried in that painful loss to Zverev was obliterated as the 20-time Grand Slam champion exited the forgettable campaign at Tokyo 2020 without a medal. That is because soon after losing to Busta, Djokovic also withdrew from Serbia’s mixed doubles bronze match he was supposed to play alongside Nina Stojanovic.
It is a major upset as Djokovic came into Tokyo looking unbeatable. He was at the prime of his tennis powers and was in the form of his professional career. He demonstrated this when he shook the French Open from the firm grasp of Rafa Nadal and kept it up by taking Wimbledon. No one could have bet against him in Tokyo.
Yet, against Zverev, something of Djokovic’s cool, unflappable demeanour was cracking. In the bronze game against Busta, it burst open and the Serb appeared out of sorts. He uncharacteristically lost his cool twice in the deciding set, throwing his racket into the stands and violently smashing his racket shortly after.
It was evidence that playing badly was getting at him and that he despaired that having put in so much to reach the Summer Games and win it, he was not reaching the goals he set for himself with the way his Olympics had turned out.
The world number one player was admittedly suffering a hangover from that defeat in the first set against Busta, who broke the Serbian’s serve in the fifth game and held on to that lead, serving out for 6-4, but he gathered his wits and fought a valiant and tight second set.
The two bronze medal challengers went toe-to-toe, holding serve and forcing the set into a tie break. Djokovic punched in to race to a 4-1 lead. Busta was not letting up and pegged him back to a 6-5 match point. Then, Djokovic seized the chance of three straight points to force a third set and give his Olympic medal chase a chance.
However, it was in this decider that things fell apart for the top seed. A discouraging loss of point at deuce, while he was attempting to break Busta’s serve made Djokovic fling his racket into the stands in frustration. Fortunately, there was no one sitting there.
Although he avoided reprimand, things were getting out of control for the Serb as he lost his own serve in the next game. Obviously, venting his frustration so vividly was not doing his game any favours. He doubled down instead of cooling off as he battered his racquet with a violent smash near the net.
He was immediately cautioned this time by the chair umpire. But, Busta queried the referee for the leniency as he thought Djokovic’s antics were sufficient enough reasons to come with a point deduction penalty.
There were no more off-colour incidents like that again for the rest of the match and Busta, a Davis Cup winner, was able to calmly negotiate the rest of the match with confidence. He earned his bronze podium finish when he served out to finish the third set 6-3.
Not long after, the International Tennis Federation revealed that Djokovic had withdrawn from the bronze mixed doubles because of a “left shoulder injury,” effectively depriving his partner Stojanovic a chance to win a medal. The bronze will go to the Australian pair Ashleigh Barty and John Peers courtesy of a walkover.