Novak Djokovic throws and smashes racquet in Tokyo Olympics bronze-medal match defeat

The World No1 missed out on a medal as he fell to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in three sets

Alex Pattle
Saturday 31 July 2021 11:46
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Novak Djokovic throws and smashes racquet in Tokyo Olympics bronze medal match defeat

Novak Djokovic could not conceal his frustration as he fell to defeat by Pablo Carreno Busta in the men’s singles bronze-medal match at Tokyo 2020.

World No1 Djokovic was denied a shot at a Golden Slam as he was beaten by Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Friday before losing in the mixed doubles at the same stage.

And the Serb’s anger boiled over on Saturday as he threw a racket into the stands before smashing another during his 4-6 7-6(6) 3-6 defeat by Spain’s Carreno Busta – a result that saw bronze elude Djokovic.

The 34-year-old’s only Olympic medal to date came in the men’s singles at Beijing 2008, but his remarkable form this season – which had seen him win the first three Grand Slams of the year – had him on course for gold in Tokyo and potentially another US Open trophy. Both of those accolades in succession would have sealed an astounding Golden Slam, but that achievement will now surely remain out of reach for Djokovic.

The Serb’s serve was missing in action against Zverev and the same was true in the first set against Carreno Busta, who broke for 3-2 while saving all five break points he faced.

Djokovic held his own in the second set, his serve much improved, but Carreno Busta repelled everything the world No1 could throw at him and came from 1-4 down in the tiebreak to force a match point at 5-6.

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

Djokovic smashes a racket after throwing one into the stands

Carreno Busta was across the court at the US Open last summer when Djokovic was disqualified for hitting a line judge with a ball and – when the Spaniard saved a break point in the opening game of the final set here – his opponent again exhibited a loss of control, flinging his racket into the stands.

Remarkably, Djokovic did not receive a warning, and Carreno Busta was clearly shocked that the 34-year-old was not given a point penalty when the Serb angrily destroyed another racket after falling 3-0 behind.

Pablo Carreno Busta celebrates his bronze-medal victory

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

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.

After his singles defeat, Djokovic revealed he had pulled out of his mixed doubles bronze-medal match, where he and Nina 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 No1s.

Additional reporting by PA.

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