Despite Novak Djokovic’s disappointing semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev on Friday at the Tokyo Olympics, which ended the Serbian’s hopes of a historic Golden Grand Slam, the 34-year-old is still fully focused on gaining an Olympic bronze medal for his country.
Djokovic was chasing a 23rd straight singles win against the fourth seed, but struggled to find his best form against the German, who overcame the World No. 1 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. Djokovic will now face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in Saturday’s bronze medal match.
“I feel terrible right now in every sense but tomorrow hopefully a fresh start I can recover and win at least one medal for my country,” Djokovic said.
Having won the first three major championships of the season, Djokovic was aiming to complete an achievement only WTA legend Stefanie Graf managed in 1988 by winning all four major championships and a singles Olympic gold medal.
The top seed looked on course to reach the gold medal match as he led by a set and a break against the World No. 5. However, Djokovic struggled on serve in the latter stages of the match in the high temperatures in Tokyo.
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“Tough day, a really tough day,” Djokovic said. “I feel so terrible right now. I was leading [by] a set then a break and he managed to turn the match around. He served huge, was attacking, and I was not getting any free points on my first serves.
“I [have] got to give him credit for turning (the) match around. He served extremely well. I mean I was not getting too many looks on the second serve. My serve just drastically dropped. I didn’t get any free points from 3-2 up in the second. My game fell apart.
“To play someone of his quality, of his level, it’s just too tough to win a match (like that). It’s just sport. He played better.”
On a challenging day for Djokovic, the Serbian also fell in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles with countrywoman Nina Stojanovic to the ROC’s Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina.
After his bronze medal matches, Djokovic’s attention will turn to the hard-court season as he aims to capture a calendar-year Grand Slam at the US Open, a title he has won three times before. The only player in the Open Era to accomplish this feat was Rod Laver in 1969.