Djokovic leaves Olympics without a medal

Djokovic leaves Olympics without a medal

World No.1 loses bronze-medal singles match and pulls out of mixed doubles with injury

Novak Djokovic reacts after losing to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta their men’s singles tennis match for the bronze medal at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on Saturday. (AFP Photo)
Novak Djokovic reacts after losing to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta their men’s singles tennis match for the bronze medal at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on Saturday. (AFP Photo)

TOKYO: World number one and 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will leave the Olympics without a medal for the third Games in succession after pulling out of Saturday’s mixed doubles final with a shoulder injury.

The Serbian, who won a singles bronze in Beijing in 2008 but failed to earn a podium place in London, Rio and now Tokyo, withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze medal match minutes after his defeat by Pablo Carreno Busta in the men’s singles bronze match.

Djokovic hurled his racquet into the empty stands and smashed another on a net post as he lost his cool on his way to defeat against the Spaniard. He lost the match 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 as Carreno Busta won on his sixth match point.

The winner of this year’s Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon was aiming for a Golden Grand Slam when he came to Tokyo. But those hopes were dashed by Alexander Zverev on Friday.

Djokovic and his mixed-doubles partner Nina Stojanovic then withdrew before their bronze-medal match against Australians Ashleigh Barty and John Peers, according to organisers.

It later emerged that Djokovic had a shoulder injury. It’s not known how serious it is and whether it might affect his plans for the US Open, which starts on Aug 30.

It is the first time top seed Djokovic has lost two straight singles matches since defeats by Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer at the 2019 ATP Tour Finals.

The match with Carreno Busta was a gripping encounter played over two hours and 47 minutes in the suffocating Tokyo heat, with both men desperate to secure a medal.

Djokovic saved match point in the second-set tie-break to force a decider, and then four more late in the third set.

But Carreno Busta, who also knocked out second seed Daniil Medvedev earlier in the tournament, struck 32 winners in an excellent performance, with Djokovic managing just 18.

The 30-year-old finally wrapped up victory in a lengthy final game when his illustrious opponent put a forehand into the net.

Djokovic brought back memories of his infamous default against Carreno Busta last year at the US Open, when he inadvertently struck a ball at a line judge.

This time he threw his racquet high into the empty stands as he saw a break point come and go in the opening game of the third set, and continued to cut an angry figure, destroying another racquet after a miss at the net.

He was given a warning by the umpire after that second incident, but not following the first.

Djokovic’s withdrawal from the mixed doubles means Ash Barty and John Peers bag a bronze medal for Australia.

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