TOKYO (AP) — Along with his Golden Slam bid over for not less than one other three years, Novak Djokovic rested his head on Alexander Zverev’s shoulder as his German opponent and good friend consoled him.
“I informed him that he’s the best of all time,” Zverev mentioned. “I do know that he was chasing historical past.”
Djokovic, the top-ranked Serb who had appeared invincible in all the greatest tournaments this yr, misplaced to Zverev 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 Friday within the semifinals of the tennis match on the Tokyo Olympics.
Djokovic was making an attempt to turn into the primary man to win all 4 Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the identical yr. He received the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon this yr and wanted the Olympic and U.S. Open titles to finish the Golden Slam assortment.
“I really feel so horrible proper now,” Djokovic mentioned. “I can’t be optimistic proper now.”
Steffi Graf in 1988 stays the one tennis participant to attain the Golden Slam. However Djokovic can nonetheless go after the calendar-year Grand Slam by profitable the U.S. Open — one thing no man has achieved since Rod Laver in 1969.
“He received 20 Grand Slams,” Zverev mentioned. “So you may’t have every little thing.
“On the finish of the day he’s the best of all time, as a result of he’s going to win probably the most Grand Slams, he’s going to win probably the most Grasp Sequence, he’s going to be the longest on the world No. 1, and I’m certain 99% that that is the case when it’s all mentioned and performed,” Zverev mentioned.
Zverev’s opponent within the gold-medal match will probably be Karen Khachanov. The Russian beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-3.
Djokovic will play two bronze-medal matches on Saturday. He’ll face Carreno Busta in singles then will staff with Serbian companion Nina Stojanovic in combined doubles towards Ash Barty and John Friends of Australia.
On a damp and muggy night, Djokovic dedicated a sequence of uncharacteristic errors after a powerful begin because the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Zverev began to win free factors along with his large serve.
Djokovic was up a set and a break within the second earlier than Zverev received 10 of the ultimate 11 video games.
“It’s simply sport. He performed higher,” Djokovic mentioned. “I acquired to provide him credit score for turning (the) match round. He served extraordinarily effectively. I imply I used to be not getting too many seems to be on the second serve. My serve simply drastically dropped. I didn’t get any free factors from 3-2 up within the second. My recreation fell aside.”
Djokovic hadn’t misplaced since getting crushed by Rafael Nadal on the Italian Open last 2½ months in the past.
“He’s gone these previous few months with none losses and for him it’s a giant loss … simply collapsing in the long run,” mentioned Marin Cilic of Croatia, who received silver in doubles.
Cilic famous that the extreme heat and humidity on the Ariake Tennis Park all through the match could have caught up with Djokovic.
“It’s very unlucky for him however nonetheless he’s an unbelievable champion and he nonetheless has so a few years forward of him to attain many nice issues,” Cilic mentioned.
When Zverev hit a backhand winner down the road that Djokovic didn’t transfer for to shut it out, Djokovic walked to the online the place he acquired a heat hug from Zverev because the pair exchanged some phrases.
“After all I’m joyful that I’ve received, however in the long run of the day I additionally know (how) he feels,” Zverev mentioned.
Djokovic’s solely Olympic medal was bronze in singles on the 2008 Beijing Video games — his first.
Djokovic got here again on the court docket little greater than an hour later with Stojanovic within the combined semifinals and misplaced that match, too, getting crushed by the Russian duo of Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev 7-6 (4), 7-5.
“I really feel horrible proper now in each sense however tomorrow hopefully recent begin I can recuperate and not less than win one medal for my nation,” Djokovic mentioned.
It was the third consecutive day that Djokovic performed two matches.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Join membership to turn into a founding member and assist form HuffPost’s subsequent chapter