Pablo Carreno Busta wins Tokyo Olympics bronze as he denies Novak Djokovic a medal in the singles
Novak Djokovic will leave Tokyo without a singles medal after losing his cool and the match to Pablo Carreno Busta in the battle for bronze.
The world No 1 was back on court less than 24 hours after his shock defeat by Alexander Zverev, which ended his hopes of becoming the first man to complete the Golden Slam of all four major titles and Olympic singles gold in the same year.
Djokovic’s dejection was clear afterwards, especially when he then lost his mixed doubles semi-final with Nina Stojanovic, and rousing himself to finish on the podium proved beyond him.
— Olympics (@Olympics) July 31, 2021
He saved a match point in the second set to force a decider but let his emotions out early in the third when he failed to break, hurling one racket into the empty stands and then smashing another against the net post, as he fell to a 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 defeat.
This was the third time Djokovic has played a bronze medal match at the Olympics. He defeated James Blake in Beijing in 2008 but lost to Juan Martin Del Potro in London.
He had made winning a medal for Serbia one of his major goals for the season but his serve, which had gone badly off the boil against Zverev, was missing in action again in the first set and Carreno Busta broke for 3-2 while saving all five break points he faced.
He held his own in the second set, his serve much improved, but Carreno Busta repelled everything Djokovic could throw at him and he came from 1-4 down in the tie-break to force a match point at 5-6.
— ITF (@ITFTennis) July 31, 2021
Djokovic showed his heart was still willing by saving it and taking the contest to a decider but things quickly took another downward turn.
Carreno Busta was the opponent at the US Open last summer when Djokovic was defaulted for hitting a line judge with a ball and, when the Spaniard saved a break point in the opening game, his opponent again had a worrying loss of control, flinging his racket into the stands.
Remarkably, he did not receive a warning, and Carreno Busta was clearly shocked that Djokovic was not given a point penalty when he angrily destroyed another racket after falling 3-0 behind.
He tried to turn the match around but Carreno Busta, who has played the best tennis of his career over the last year, withstood 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.
Djokovic still has a chance to win a bronze medal in mixed doubles, where he and Stojanovic will take on Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and John Peers in a rare meeting of the men’s and women’s world number ones.
Emma Raducanu to be given ‘homecoming’ broadcast to toast her US Open win
The Lawn Tennis Association are set to give Emma Raducanu the welcome home she deserves.
Exclusive – Assessing Novak Djokovic’s legacy with one of the game’s leading writers
Novak Djokovic has always been fighting a losing battle in a popularity contest with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Emma Raducanu could secure a place in lucrative end-of-season WTA finals
Raducanu could be on course to secure a remarkable place in the lucrative end-of-season WTA finals in Mexico.
Andy Murray eyeing up leap in the rankings after another win in Metz
Murray is one win away from a return to the top 100 in the ATP rankings.
Emma Raducanu confirms first sponsorship deal and plenty more will follow
The sponsorship opportunities are rolling in for…
‘Winning is what sport is all about’ – Andy Murray reacts to one of his best wins of 2021
The former world number dispatched the home favourite favourite 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Andy Murray accepts wildcard as he prepares to return to scene of one of his great wins
Murray completed a comeback few believed was possible when he won the ATP event in Antwerp in 2019.
Coaching guru insists Emma Raducanu still has much to prove after US Open win
She is the new queen of tennis…
Roger Federer on his latest fitness battle and Novak Djokovic’s US Open final defeat
Roger Federer has not made…
Emma Raducanu makes a leap in the tennis rankings without striking a ball
Raducanu has enjoyed a welcome rankings boost, without even striking a ball in anger.