Tokyo Olympics: Djokovic stunned by Zverev as Golden Slam hopes collapse

By Sports Desk July 30, 2021

Novak Djokovic's hopes of becoming the first man to win a calendar Golden Slam were crushed by a semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev at the Tokyo Olympics.

From a set and a break up, Djokovic dropped a staggering eight games in a row on his way to a 1-6 6-3 6-1 loss.

The 34-year-old Serbian had been unsure about coming to the Games but was swayed by the pride he takes in representing his country and the tantalising opportunity to add a gold medal to a potential clean sweep of the grand slams.

He has already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and will head to the US Open in August as a heavy favourite regardless of this setback.

But this was just not Djokovic's day, despite him making a whirlwind start and dominating until the point he broke to lead 3-2 in the second set. From there, Zverev seized control. 

When Djokovic volleyed into the net to make it 3-3, dropping serve for the first time in the match, it looked like just a minor stumble.

Yet suddenly he was struggling for form and did not win another game until he was already 4-0 behind in the deciding set.

Zverev was playing blindingly brilliant tennis and was proving obdurate too, saving four break points in the second game of the third set.

He clinched victory with a blazing backhand winner, and goes on to face Russian Karen Khachanov in the final.

The result means Djokovic, like Roger Federer, seems fated never to win the Olympic singles gold medal. And it leaves Steffi Graf as the only player to ever win a calendar Golden Slam, having done so in 1988 when she added the Seoul Olympics title to her haul of majors.

Russian Olympic Committee's Khachanov fended off Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta with some ease in the first semi-final, with the world number 25 sweeping to a 6-3 6-3 victory in an hour and 19 minutes.

He won 26 of 28 points on first serve to freeze out Carreno Busta, who had only one break point all match and could not take that opportunity.

"It's just a pure happiness, a pleasure to be here to live those moments, these kind of memories will stay forever," Khachanov said.

Khachanov delivered a rock solid display, with his serve and forehand at their best, barely giving his opponent a sniff of an opportunity as the Moscow-born 25-year-old established a firm grip.

"That's the way I prepared, against every opponent you play a little bit differently," Khachanov said. "The final will be another story, another match, another day. I hope it will be the same."

Carreno Busta, who will face Djokovic for the bronze medal, said: "It was not the best match I have played, but Karen was unbelievable today, playing very aggressive and serving really good."

Related items

  • Rising star Brooksby set for Schwartzman test in Antwerp semi-finals Rising star Brooksby set for Schwartzman test in Antwerp semi-finals

    Jenson Brooksby enhanced his growing reputation and set up showdown with Diego Schwartzman in the European Open semi-finals.

    The 20-year-old American, who took a set off Novak Djokovic and rattled the world number one at the US Open, is shaping up as potentially his country's biggest hope for the future in the men's game.

    Californian Brooksby crushed Spain's world number 44 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 6-0, and second seed Schwartzman awaits after the Argentinian took down another 20-year-old American, Brandon Nakashima, scoring a 6-4 6-2 quarter-final win.

    Schwartzman is the man who ended Andy Murray's hopes at the tournament in Antwerp.

    Brooksby, who had to win two qualifying matches to reach the main draw, said: "Tomorrow will be a great match. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll get some rest tonight and get ready to battle again tomorrow."

    The other semi-final will see Italian top seed Jannik Sinner take on South African seventh seed Lloyd Harris following their respective straight-sets wins over Arthur Rinderknech and Marton Fucsovics.


    There will be an all-Russian semi-final at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, after Aslan Karatsev and Karen Khachanov won through to the final four.

    Second seed Karatsev sank the hopes of Frenchman Gilles Simon, breaking serve five times on the way to a 6-4 6-3 win, while third-seeded Khachanov edged out Australian John Millman. A 7-5 7-6 (7-4) grind featured 19 aces by Khachanov, the 2018 Kremlin Cup champion, who saved four set points in the second set.

    Marin Cilic thrashed Pedro Martinez 6-1 6-2 to set up a tussle with Ricardas Berankis, the Lithuanian ending Adrian Mannarino's run with a 6-2 7-6 (7-1) success. Frenchman Mannarino had stunned Russian top seed Andrey Rublev in the previous round.

  • Sakkari sinks Halep hopes in Moscow as Kremlin Cup big names suffer Sakkari sinks Halep hopes in Moscow as Kremlin Cup big names suffer

    Maria Sakkari admitted she got twitchy before finishing off Simona Halep to reach the Kremlin Cup semi-finals.

    The Greek star is chasing what would be just her second career title at WTA level, but the limited silverware belies her growing reputation: Sakkari has shot up to a career-high seventh in the world rankings during her best season on tour.

    Looking to finish with a flourish, both in Moscow and next month at the season-ending WTA Finals, Sakkari scored a 6-4 6-4 victory over former world number one Halep on Friday.

    The victory sets up a last-four clash with Ekaterina Alexandrova, after the Russian impressed a home crowd by landing a 6-3 6-4 win against top seed Aryna Sabalenka.

    Yet Sakkari was almost reeled in by Halep from the point of victory in the second set, being unable to finish off the match on her own serve after building a 5-1 lead. Halep twice broke back, before dropping her own serve.

    "It was a very tough match today," Sakkari said in an on-court interview. "It was the first time I'd played Simona, but I knew what to expect: she makes a lot of balls, more than any other player. I had a tough moment in the second set when I was 5-1 up, but finally, I found a way. I got a little nervous, a little bit tired.

    "The last couple of months have been tough, I've been travelling a lot so haven't recovered enough. I just tried harder in the last game and just went for it."

    Alexandrova's shock win over Sabalenka gave her a sixth career victory over a top-10 player. Second seed Garbine Muguruza followed Sabalenka out of the tournament, walloped 6-1 6-1 by in-form Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who has won 19 of her last 21 matches on tour, including beating Sakkari in the Ostrava final last month.

    Kontaveit's semi-final opponent at the WTA 500 event will be Marketa Vondrousova, who claimed a 6-4 6-2 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

    At the Tenerife Open, Italian Camila Giorgi is the only seeded survivor in the semi-finals. The Italian fourth seed saw off Arantxa Rus 6-1 6-1, with Frenchwoman Alize Cornet and American Ann Li also among Friday's winners at the WTA 250 tournament.

  • Murray blames 'poor attitude' for Schwartzman loss in Antwerp Murray blames 'poor attitude' for Schwartzman loss in Antwerp

    Andy Murray fumed at his own mentality and "poor" attitude after falling to a straight-sets defeat to Diego Schwartzman at the European Open.

    Two days on from beating Frances Tiafoe in a three-set epic, Murray fell to a 6-4 7-6 (8-6) loss to the second-seeded Argentine in Antwerp.

    The three-time grand slam winner, who in January 2019 underwent hip resurfacing surgery, was 4-1 up in the first set but was reeled back in and lost out in a hard-fought contest.

    Following the defeat, a frustrated Murray said: "I didn't make as many good decisions as I would have liked in the second set dealing with adversity.

    "Mentally I was poor, and my attitude was poor on the court."

    Murray is still slated to play in Austria and Stockholm before the season is out, while he could also enter the Paris Masters either via a wildcard entry or going through the qualifiers.

    "There'll be a decision on the final Paris wildcard on Monday, but I might even play the qualis there," Murray added. 

    "Sport is a results business. Play well or poorly doesn't really matter if you lose matches. You need to be winning. 

    "That's what I want in the last few tournaments. They are really strong tournaments and there are no guarantees the results will come, but I want to win more matches."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.