Pablo Carreno Busta beats Novak Djokovic in three sets to win the bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 


Novak Djokovic will leave Tokyo without a singles medal after losing his cool and the match to Pablo Carreno Busta in the battle for bronze.

The world number one was back on court less than 24 hours after his shock defeat by Alexander Zverev, which ended his hopes of becoming the first man to complete the Golden Slam of all four major titles and Olympic singles gold in the same year.

Djokovic’s dejection was clear afterwards, especially when he then lost his mixed doubles semi-final with Nina Stojanovic, and rousing himself to finish on the podium proved beyond him. The defeat means the Serbian’s Olympics comes to an end without a medal because he has withdrawn from mixed doubles bronze match today, citing a shoulder injury.

Novak Djokovic reacts after losing the first set to Pablo Carreno Busta in bronze medal match

Djokovic fought back to win the second set and take the match into a decisive third set

Djokovic fought back to win the second set and take the match into a decisive third set

A clearly frustrated Djokovic lost his cool and broke his racket by smashing it on the ground

Djokovic also hurled it into the empty stands as he struggled to find his rhythm

A clearly frustrated Djokovic lost his cool as he broke his racket and hurled it into the stands

He saved a match point in the second set to force a decider but let his emotions out early in the third when he failed to break, hurling one racket into the empty stands and then smashing another against the net post, as he fell to a 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 defeat.

This was the third time Djokovic has played a bronze medal match at the Olympics. He defeated James Blake in Beijing in 2008 but lost to Juan Martin Del Potro in London.

He had made winning a medal for Serbia one of his major goals for the season but his serve, which had gone badly off the boil against Zverev, was missing in action again in the first set and Carreno Busta broke for 3-2 while saving all five break points he faced.

He held his own in the second set, his serve much improved, but Carreno Busta repelled everything Djokovic could throw at him and he came from 1-4 down in the tie-break to force a match point at 5-6.

Pablo Carreno Busta fought hard to take the second set to a tie-break but couldn't capitalise

Pablo Carreno Busta fought hard to take the second set to a tie-break but couldn’t capitalise

Djokovic showed his heart was still willing by saving it and taking the contest to a decider but things quickly took another downward turn.

Carreno Busta was the opponent at the US Open last summer when Djokovic was defaulted for hitting a line judge with a ball and, when the Spaniard saved a break point in the opening game, his opponent again had a worrying loss of control, flinging his racket into the stands.

Remarkably, he did not receive a warning, and Carreno Busta was clearly shocked that Djokovic was not given a point penalty when he angrily destroyed another racket after falling 3-0 behind.

He tried to turn the match around but Carreno Busta, who has played the best tennis of his career over the last year, withstood superbly to claim his first Olympic medal, finally clinching his sixth match point. 

The match was taken to a third set after Djokovic's narrow tie break victory in the second

The match was taken to a third set after Djokovic’s narrow tie break victory in the second

Carreno Busta rallied and won the third set 6-3 to claim the bronze medal at the Tokyo games 

The 30-year-old lay amid the Olympic rings at the back of the court in celebration as his opponent waited to congratulate him at the net.

Djokovic still has a chance to win a bronze medal in mixed doubles, where he and Stojanovic will take on Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and John Peers in a rare meeting of the men’s and women’s world number ones.   

After his singles defeat Djokovic revealed he had pulled out of his mixed doubles bronze medal match, where he and Stojanovic had been due to take on Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and John Peers in a rare meeting of the men’s and women’s world number ones.  

Djokovic was down but defiant, saying: ‘I do have a regret for not winning a medal for my country. Opportunities missed both in doubles and singles. I didn’t deliver yesterday and today, the level of tennis dropped, also due to exhaustion, mentally and physically.

‘But, I don’t regret coming to the Olympics at all. Of course not. I believe there is no coincidence in life, everything happens for a reason, and I had some heartbreaking losses at Olympic Games and some big tournaments in my career, and I know that those losses have usually made me stronger, in every aspect.

Djokovic cannot hide his disappointment but says he will try again at the Paris Olympics

Djokovic cannot hide his disappointment but says he will try again at the Paris Olympics 

‘I know that I will bounce back. I will try to keep going for Paris Olympic Games, I will fight for my country to win medals and I’m sorry that I disappointed a lot of sports fans in my country but that’s sport.

‘I gave it all, whatever I had left in the tank, which was not so much. I felt it out on the court. The consequences physically hopefully will not create a problem for me for US Open. That’s something that I’m not sure about right now.

‘But I’m not regretting giving it all because, when you play for your country, that’s necessary.’On his loss of control, Djokovic said: ‘It was an emotional outburst and it happens. It’s tense on the court. In the heat of the battle. It’s not the first time and not the last time probably.

‘It’s not nice of course but it’s part of, I guess, who I am. I don’t like doing these things. I’m sorry for sending this kind of message but we’re all human beings and sometimes it’s difficult to control your emotions.’



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