TOKYO (Reuters) – World number one and 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will leave the Olympics without a medal for the third consecutive Games after retiring from Saturday’s mixed doubles bronze medal match with an injury to his the shoulder.
The Serbian, who won a bronze in singles in Beijing in 2008 but failed to reach the podium in London, Rio and now Tokyo, withdrew from the mixed doubles minutes after losing to the Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the singles bronze medal match.
His withdrawal from the mixed doubles means Ash Barty and John Peers win a bronze medal for Australia.
Djokovic also lost to Germany’s Alexander Zverev on Friday in the singles semifinals, putting an end to his hopes of winning a “Golden Slam,” which is Olympic gold and all four Grand Slam tournaments over this year. a calendar year.
He has already won the Australian and French Open as well as Wimbledon with the US Open, the last of four major tournaments to come.
“I regret that I didn’t win a medal for my country and missed opportunities in mixed doubles and singles and, yes, I just didn’t deliver yesterday and today,” Djokovic told reporters.
“The level of tennis has also gone down due to exhaustion, you know, mentally and physically.”
Players struggled with the heat and humidity of Tokyo throughout the tournament, requiring cold showers, ice packs and other cooling fans.
“But I don’t regret coming to the Olympics at all,” he said. “Of course not. I think there is no such thing as a coincidence in life, everything happens for a reason and I have suffered heartbreaking losses in the Olympics and some big tournaments in my career.”
Djokovic, 34, has pledged to give the Olympics another chance in three years in Paris.
“I know I will bounce back. I will try to continue for the Paris Olympics. I will fight for my country to win medals. Sorry to disappoint a lot of sports fans in my country, but this is the sport.”
The Serbian can still win all four majors in a calendar year – won only in men by Don Budge and Rod Laver (twice) – when he competes in the US Open which begins on August 30.
“The physical consequences will hopefully not create a problem for me for (the) US Open. So that’s something I’m not sure about at the moment, but I don’t regret giving it my all. because at the end of the day when you play for a country, it’s necessary. “
“I know these losses generally made me stronger.”
(Written by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Ken Ferris)