Novak Djokovic’s dream of a Golden Slam is over.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev returned from a set and serve break down to beat Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament.
Djokovic was attempting to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in one calendar year. He had won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon and came to Tokyo in search of a fourth gem. The United States Open takes place at the end of the summer.
Djokovic was on cruise control in the second set when Zverev broke a serve to reach within three games of the match. Zverev swung a ball through the roof of the stadium in despair and was destined to meet with a quick end like Djokovic’s first four victims in Tokyo. He had not lost a single set in the Olympics and said that he was getting better with every match.
But with little to lose, Zverev began his flamboyant serve and set up a crushing forehand to take control of the match, as Djokovic inexplicably began spraying his shots off the court.
Zverev said he felt that he was down in the match but didn’t feel like he was playing poorly. Rather, he was playing Djokovic’s game, joining rallies with him instead of swinging through the ball and using his superior power to control the points.
With the flick of a switch, Zverev placed Djokovic on his heels, pushing him back and forth on the back of the court.
Djokovic tried to slow down Zverev’s pace with long bathroom breaks between the second and third sets, as he has done in tense moments in the past, but it did not work, and his two-of-three set format had his Did not have the cushion afforded by the format of five sets of three matches in the Grand Slam tournament.
After Zverev easily lost seven games in a row, leading 4-0 in the deciding set, Djokovic had a tough time even for a player who has already made several impressive comebacks in the first three Grand Slams this year Was.
As a final humiliation, Zverev broke Djokovic’s serve for the third time in the final set to take the match. He held his face in disbelief and hugged the Serbian champion over the net, when it was over, looking up at the sky to wonder what had just happened.
“I was thinking I had a medal for Germany and this is probably the proudest moment of my career,” Zverev said. “The Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world.”
Zverev said that as soon as he hugged Djokovic at the net, he had nothing but praise for the player who has 20 Grand Slam titles and had a 6-2 record against entering the match. He told him that he would go down as the greatest player in the history of the sport, that he would win the most Grand Slams, and most Masters titles, and that he would spend more weeks as the top player in the world than anyone.
“I knew he was chasing a Golden Slam, but you can’t win everything,” Zverev said. “I told him he was the greatest player ever, but I’m sorry.”
Djokovic will face Pablo Careno Busta in the bronze medal match on Saturday.