Tokyo Olympics 2020: Novak Djokovic beaten by Alexander Zverev in men’s tennis semi-final

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Novak Djokovic reacts during his defeat by Alex Zverev (Reuters)
Novak Djokovic reacts during his defeat by Alex Zverev (Reuters)

World No 1 Novak Djokovic has been beaten by Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the men’s singles tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics.

Djokovic, representing Serbia, was looking to add to his singles bronze medal from Beijing 2008 and move a step closer to the “Golden Slam” – achieved by winning all four grand slams and an Olympic gold medal in one calendar year.

The 34-year-old won the first three majors of the year by triumphing at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, with the US Open set to begin on 30 August.

But Germany’s Zverev fought from a set down to beat Djokovic in three sets on Friday, denying the Serb an elusive Olympic gold medal with a 1-6 6-3 6-1 victory. Djokovic later lost in the mixed doubles semi-finals alongside partner Nina Stojanovic, the pair coming up short against the Russian Olympic Committee’s Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina.

World No 6 Zverev will face Karen Khachanov of the ROC in the men’s singles final. Djokovic, meanwhile, will take on Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze-medal match, after the Spaniard was beaten 6-3 6-3 by Khachanov in the semi-finals.

Djokovic was on course for a place in the final and a guarantee of his first Olympic silver medal at least, leading Zverev by a set and a break in the Ariake Tennis Park.

But the 24-year-old broke back at once to tie the second set at 3-3, beginning a run of eight straight games that took him to a 4-0 lead in the deciding set.

Zverev soon sealed victory to set up a clash with Khachanov, ensuring his first Olympic medal. Only the colour is left to be determined for the German, whose most notable achievements so far are a World Tour Finals trophy in 2018 and US Open runner-up finish in 2020.

Djokovic’s Wimbledon title earlier this month was his sixth at the grass-court major and 20th slam trophy overall. That victory saw him tie Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s joint-record of 20 major men’s trophies. While Djokovic’s chances of following his rivals in winning Olympic gold might have disappeared, the 34-year-old still has the opportunity to do what neither the Spaniard nor Swiss has ever managed: win a calendar slam.

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