No fun for Joker

Not so cool: Novak Djokovic smashes his racquet during his bronze medal match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta yesterday. ­— AFP

TOKYO: Novak Djokovic came to the Tokyo Olympics aiming for a Golden Slam. He’ll leave without a medal and will need some time to recover from a draining performance in extreme conditions that didn’t meet expectations.

The top-ranked Djokovic lost his cool and abused his racquet several times during a 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 loss to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in the bronze-medal match of the tennis tournament yesterday.

It was Djokovic’s third defeat in two days and it came less than 24 hours after he was beaten by Alexander Zverev of Germany in the singles semi-finals. That ended his bid for a Golden Slam, which is winning all four Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold in the same year.

“I just didn’t deliver yesterday and today. The level of tennis dropped. Also due to exhaustion – mentally and physically,” Djokovic, whose nickname is Joker, said.

“I gave it my all, whatever I had left in the tank – which was not so much.”

Djokovic’s frustration was evident in his on-court behaviour as the match wore on.

Having saved a match point in the second-set tie breaker, Djokovic threw his racquet over five rows of seats into the stands after he couldn’t get to a stop-volley winner from Carreno Busta to conclude a long rally in the opening game of the third.

A couple of games later, when Carreno Busta had broken his serve to take control of the decisive set, Djokovic again lost his cool and slammed his racquet into the net post during a change of ends. He then picked up the mangled racquet and tossed it into the photographers’ pit.

“It’s part of, I guess, who I am,” Djokovic said. “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.”

Djokovic received a verbal warning for the net-post incident, but Carreno Busta appeared to question the chair umpire as to why it wasn’t a point penalty since it was the second instance of racquet abuse. The umpire, however, hadn’t warned Djokovic for the first incident.

Djokovic, who also lost with Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic in the mixed doubles semi-finals on Friday, played a total of 16 sets over seven matches in four days.

He was due back on court later yesterday for one final match in Tokyo. He and Stojanovic were scheduled to face the Australian duo of Ash Barty and John Peers for the bronze medal in mixed doubles. But Djokovic withdrew from that match citing a left shoulder injury – handing the bronze medal to Australia.

Djokovic’s only Olympic medal remains a bronze in singles from 2008 – his first Olympics. — AP

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