TOKYO – World number one Novak Djokovic left the Tokyo Games on Saturday without a medal for the third consecutive Olympiad, and withdrew from their mixed doubles competition with a shoulder injury shortly after losing the men’s singles bronze. against the Spanish Pablo Carreño Busta.
Carreño Busta triumphed 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 over a listless Novak Djokovic, a day after the Serb was stopped in his attempt to complete a historic “Golden Slam.”
The world’s number one had arrived in Tokyo with the goal of becoming the first man to win the majors four and an Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year, after taking victories at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
But that quest came to an end after he was defeated by fifth German Alexander Zverev in the semi-final on Friday.
The withdrawal of Djokovic, along with his partner Nina Stojanovic, on Saturday resulted in an automatic bronze for Australian couple Ash Barty and John Peers, the first tennis medal for their country since 2004.
“I regret not having won a medal for my country and the missed opportunities in both mixed doubles and singles and, yes, I did not deliver yesterday and today,” Djokovic told reporters.
“The level of tennis went down as well due to exhaustion, you know, mentally and physically.”
Saturday’s loss to Carreño Busta marks Djokovic’s third appearance and second loss in a bronze medal singles match. He won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games before losing to Argentine Juan Martín Del Potro in London four years later.
Del Potro beat him again in the first round of the Rio Games in 2016.
On Saturday, Carreño Busta claimed the first set as the Serbian struggled to start the match, missing five break opportunities.
The second set was a much closer affair as Djokovic’s levels improved, saving one match point and beating the Spaniard in a roller coaster tiebreaker.
But Carreño Busta, ranked eleventh, came back strong, taking the first three games in the deciding match. Djokovic battled four more match points but couldn’t hold out as the Spaniard served up the win.
‘BUSTA CARRENO KILLER OF GIANTS’
Carreño Busta’s victory capped a week of giant slaughter for the 30-year-old, after defeating world number two Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. He lost to Karen Khachanov of the Russian Olympic Committee in the next round.
“This has been an exceptional match… This is even more incredible than winning a tournament. I won the Davis Cup, I went far in other tournaments, but winning an Olympic medal is incredible. Words fail me. “said Carreño Busta.
“When Novak also lost (in the semi-finals) and I saw that he had to play number one in the world for the medal, I had my doubts. But I slept like I hadn’t slept in Tokyo last week. “
His victory also extends Spain’s remarkable record at the Olympics, having achieved a tennis medal at every Games since 1988 except London 2012.
In women’s doubles, Brazilians Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani saved four match points against Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina of the Russian Olympic Committee to snatch the women’s doubles Olympic bronze medal. It was Brazil’s first medal in tennis.
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