The world’s number one tennis player Novak Djokovic failed to earn a medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, July 31, falling in the bronze medal match against Spain’s Pablo Carreo Busta a day after his quest for the elusive Golden Slam came up short.
Djokovic became increasingly frustrated with his performance, losing 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3. He launched his racket five rows into the empty stands. Later, he ruined his racket by slamming it into the net post, prompting the umpire to issue a verbal warning.
Djokovic withdrew from a bronze medal match in mixed doubles after the loss, citing a left shoulder injury.
“It’s part of, I guess, who I am. 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.” he said, post-match.
Djokovic came into the Olympics on the verge of making history, having won three Grand Slams already this year. He would have become the first man to complete the Golden Slam, a feat reserved for tennis players who win four majors and the Olympics in the same calendar year if he had won both a gold medal in Tokyo and the U.S. Open.
Djokovic struggled despite being seeded first in the Olympic tennis tournament, losing in the semifinals to Germany’s Alexander Zverev on Friday, ensuring that Djokovic’s career medal count remained at one—a bronze medal won in 2008.
“I don’t regret coming to the Olympics at all,” Djokovic stated. “Everything happens for a reason and [I’ve] had some heart-breaking losses at the Olympic Games and some big tournaments in my career. And I know that those losses have usually made me stronger.”