As the Tokyo-Golden Slam bid lasted for at least another three years, Novak Djokovic put his head on Alexander Zverev’s shoulder while his German opponent and friend comforted him.
“I told him the best ever,” Zverev said. “I know he was chasing history.”
Seemingly invincible in all the biggest tournaments of the year, top-ranked Serbian Djokovic lost to Zverev 1–6, 6–3, 6-1 on Friday in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics tennis tournament.
Djokovic was about to become the first man to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold medal in the same year. He won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year and needed the Olympic and US Open titles to complete the Golden Slam collection.
Steffi Graf in 1988 was the only tennis player to achieve a golden slam.
“He won 20 Grand Slams,” Zverev said. “So you can’t get everything.
“After all, he’s the best ever. He won the most Grand Slams, the most Master Series, and the longest in the world. I’m sure 99%, this is all That’s true if it’s said and done, “Zverev said.
Zverev’s opponent in the gold medal match will be Karen Khachanov. Russia defeated Spain’s Pablo Carreño Basta 6–3, 6–3.
Djokovic, who hasn’t lost since being beaten by Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open final two and a half months ago, will play Carreno Basta in bronze.
On a humid and sultry night, Djokovic made a series of featureless errors as Zverev, 6 feet 6 (1.98 meters), began to score free points on the Big Serve after a strong start.
Djokovic made a set and break in one second before Zverev won 10 of the last 11 games.
“He’s gone without any loss in the last few months. It’s a big loss for him … it just collapses after all,” said Marin Cilic of Croatia, who won the silver medal in the doubles.
Cilic said the extreme heat and humidity of the Ariake Tennis Park during the tournament could have caught up with Djokovic.
“It’s very disappointing to him, but he’s still an incredible champion, and he’s still years ahead of him to accomplish many great things,” Cilic said. I did.
When Zverev hit the backhand winner, Djokovic didn’t move to close it, but Djokovic walked to the net and received a warm hug from Zverev when the pair exchanged a few words.
“Of course I’m happy to win, but after all, I know (how) his feelings,” Zverev said.
Djokovic’s only Olympic medal was the singles bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Djokovic returned to the court over an hour later, playing in a mixed doubles semifinal with Serbian partner Ninasto Djokovic, losing the match and being beaten by a duo of Russia’s Elena Vesnina and Athrun Zala. 7–6 (4), 7–5.
Djokovic played two games for three consecutive days.
Serbian Olympic team coach Viktor Troicki told The Associated Press Thursday.
Djokovic can chase the calendar year’s Grand Slam by winning the US Open. This is something no one has achieved since Rod Laver in 1969.
34-year-old Djokovic is the first man to win the first three major tournaments of the season since Labor that year.
Djokovic has also already rivaled his longtime rivals Roger Federer and Nadal by winning Wimbledon this month in his 20th Grand Slam title. He is the only member of Big Three’s trip to Tokyo, and Djokovic, like most other athletes, is immersed in the Olympic experience.
But without Djokovic, a singles gold medal match would lack star power. Zverev’s best career result was to reach the final of last year’s US Open, but Khachanov, 25th, was in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and is currently in the biggest final of his career.
Zverev called it “probably the most proud moment of my career to date.”
“I’m not just playing for myself, I’m not just playing for my parents, for my siblings, for my family,” he added. “But I’m playing for everyone. All the (German) athletes here are back at the base and everyone is looking back home.”
In the men’s doubles, Nicola Mectic and Mate Pavić’s top-seeded pair defeated Cilic and Ivan Dodig 6–4, 3–6 and 10–6 in the All-Croatia final. This was Croatia’s first gold and first silver in Olympic tennis, which previously won three statues.
The New Zealand team of Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus defeated Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren in the United States 7–6 (3), 6–2 to win the bronze medal.
Daniel and Venus are New Zealand’s first tennis medals since 1912, when Anthony Wilding won the bronze medal in singles on behalf of Australasia. Wilding, New Zealand’s only six-titled Grand Slam Single Champion, was killed at the age of 31 during World War I in 1915.
By Andrew Dampf