To many it felt like a foregone conclusion – Djokovic gets the gold. But when we summarize the Olympic tennis, Djokovic is without a medal.
He was in semi-finals in the singles and in the mixed doubles with Nina Stojanovic. In the semi-finals, he was in a good position against Zverev, up a set and a break (6-1 3-2 up), but ended up losing 11 games in a row and the match 6-1 3-6 1-6. Afterward, he said he had a hard time getting over the disappointment. To make matters worse, he lost in the mixed doubles to Karatsev and Vesnina 6-7 5-7. This meant he had two bronze matches to play today (Sat 31st July). One against Carreno Busta in singles and one against Barty/Peers in the mixed doubles.
It was not surprisingly difficult for Djokovic to get motivated in the bronze medal match and Carreno Busta fought hard.
Djokovic wasn’t holding his emotions inside either:
Can you be the greatest player of all time and behave like this? Most would say yes. Some would argue that “greatest” doesn’t only talk about the results but how you behave on and off the court and rather use the terminology “best” of all time. If you subscribe to this view, Djokovic will likely be the “best player of all time”, but he might never be the greatest.
To Carreno Busta bronze is like gold
Taking things in life for granted is dangerous. Perhaps that is what Djokovic did at the later stages of the Olympics. He was expected to win and started believing that anything else was impossible. This over-belief probably ended up hurting him. Carreno Busta came without aspirations of a gold medal and when he then had the chance to win a bronze medal, he gave it his all. This led him to defeat a frustrated Djokovic 6-4 6-7 6-3.
After the match, Djokovic pulled out of his mixed doubles match citing a shoulder injury. Sadly, leaving the chance for his partner Nina Stojanovic to win a bronze medal. An injury is an injury, but it is a rough situation for her not to be getting the possibility to win a medal.
What does this mean for Djokovic?
Playing three sets in brutally hot conditions without a crowd was going to be a bit trickier for Djokovic than best-of-fives in crowded grand slams like the French Open and Wimbledon. So, I’m not extremely surprised. Still, it must be a big blow to his ego not to be able to win the golden slam after being so close. However, he remains the overwhelming favorite for the US Open title in a few weeks.
What are your thoughts on Novak’s performance at the Olympics?