Olympic Men's Tennis 2021: Novak Djokovic Upset; Zverev vs. Khachanov Set For Finals

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, walks off the court after losing a semifinal men's tennis match to Alexander Zverev, of Germany, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Novak Djokovic's quest for the Golden Slam is over. The top-seeded Serbian suffered a semifinal loss to Germany's Alexander Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

Zverev advances to face the Russia Olympic Committee's Karen Khachanov in the gold medal match. Khachanov defeated Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta in the other men's semifinal at Ariake Coliseum in Japan.

Djokovic and Carreno Busta will face off for the bronze medal.

Men's Tennis Results

(4) Alexander Zverev d. (1) Novak Djokovic; 1-6, 6-3, 6-1

(12) Karen Khachanov d. (6) Pablo Carreno Busta; 6-3, 6-3

Semifinal Recap

Djokovic was aiming to become just the second player in history to achieve the Golden Slam, which encompasses winning all four Grand Slam titles and the Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year. Germany's Steffi Graf accomplished the feat in 1988.

The No. 1 seed, who'd already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2021, appeared poised to cruise through the Olympic semifinal with a dominant first set.

Zverev took full control from that point forward, though. He finished the match with significant advantages in winners (30-12) and aces (7-4), while breaking Djokovic five times to help complete the upset.

"I told him that he's the greatest of all time," the 24-year-old German told reporters about his post-match conversation with the top-ranked player in the world. "I know that he was chasing history."

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

STUNNER! 🤯<br><br>Germany's <a href="https://twitter.com/AlexZverev?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AlexZverev</a> beats <a href="https://twitter.com/DjokerNole?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DjokerNole</a> to advance to the gold-medal match at the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a>. <a href="https://t.co/5JipsVzKOv">pic.twitter.com/5JipsVzKOv</a>

Djokovic had a rare off night. He finished with more unforced errors (16) than winners (12), converted just three of his eight break-point chances (38 percent) and won only 35 percent of points (six of 17) when he came to end. Put it all together and the door was left open for Zverev's comeback triumph.

"I feel so terrible right now," Djokovic said. "I can't be positive right now."

He'll still have a chance to complete the calendar Grand Slam, which was last accomplished in men's singles by Rod Laver in 1969, when the U.S. Open kicks off in late August.

Meanwhile, Khachanov racked up 16 winners and an eye-popping 10 aces as he cruised past Carreno Busta to punch his ticket to the Olympic final.

It's been a surprising run for the 25-year-old Moscow native, who's never advanced beyond the quarterfinals in the Grand Slam tournament and hadn't made it past the third round in a major played on hard courts, which is the surface being used for the Summer Games.

"It was so important to win today because at least you know for sure that you're guaranteed a medal, which is one of the dreams come true," Khachanov said. "But obviously, you need to find motivation and excitement, and I will try to be prepared for the final and fight for the gold."

Sunday's gold-medal match will be the fifth ATP Tour meeting between Zverev and Khachanov. They split the previous four encounters but haven't faced off since 2019.


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