Novak Djokovic Exits from Olympics Mixed Doubles with Injury After Bronze-Medal Upset

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 31, 2021

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reacts during the bronze medal match of the tennis competition against Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Serbia's Novak Djokovic will leave the Tokyo Olympics without a medal as he withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze-medal match Saturday after being upset by Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta in the men's singles bronze-medal match earlier in the day.

Djokovic, who was scheduled to play alongside countrywoman Nina Stojanovic against the Australian tandem of Ashleigh Barty and John Peers, cited a left shoulder injury for his decision, per Andrew Dampf of the Associated Press.

"I just didn't deliver yesterday and today. The level of tennis dropped. Also due to exhaustion—mentally and physically," Djokovic said. "I gave it all, whatever I had left in the tank, which was not so much."

The 34-year-old superstar rolled through the early stages of the Olympics. He reached the semifinals of both tournaments without dropping a set, including a couple of dominant showings with Stojanovic.

Everything changed after his opening set in singles Friday, though. He opened the clash against Germany's Alexander Zverev by winning the first set 6-1 but proceeded to lose the next two sets to end his gold hopes in singles and later in the day lost in straight sets in mixed doubles.

The frustration started to show through in the three-set loss to Carreno Busta on Saturday as he received a warning for racket abuse in the final set, per Dampf.

"It's part of, I guess, who I am," Djokovic said. "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."

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

A MOMENT TO REMEMBER. <a href="https://twitter.com/pablocarreno91?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@pablocarreno91</a> grabs BRONZE after beating Novak Djokovic in the men’s tennis singles final. 🥉 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/xVu1hUztKk">pic.twitter.com/xVu1hUztKk</a>

The top-ranked player in the world arrived to Tokyo with a chance to keep his hopes of winning the Golden Slam—all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal—alive. Germany's Steffi Graf is the only player to accomplish the feat, doing so in 1988.

While that opportunity went by the wayside Friday, he still had a great chance to capture a pair of bronze medals. Instead, he wasn't able to secure a podium finish.

Djokovic still has an opportunity to win the calendar Grand Slam, having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. The final major of the year, the U.S. Open, kicks off in late August. The last men's singles player to win the Grand Slam was Rod Laver in 1969.

It's unclear if Djokovic will take part in any U.S. Open Series warm-up events before the season's last Grand Slam, but there's nothing yet to indicate his shoulder injury will threaten his availability for the major.