Novak Djokovic has hit the headlines once again for losing his cool against Pablo Carreno Busta as they battled it out from the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
The world No 1 from Serbia missed out on the Golden Slam after losing to Alexander Zverev on Friday. However, it was when he returned to the court to win a second career bronze on Saturday that he let his frustration out.
Djokovic let his emotions out early in the third set when he failed to break, hurling one racket into the empty stands and then smashing another against the net post.
Novak Djokovic lost his cool against Pablo Carreno Busta during their bronze medal match
The 34-year-old was back on court less than 24 hours after his shock defeat by Alexander Zverev, which ended his hopes of becoming the first man to complete the Golden Slam of all four major titles and Olympic singles gold in the same year.
Djokovic’s dejection was clear afterwards, especially when he then lost his mixed doubles semi-final with Nina Stojanovic, and rousing himself to finish on the podium proved beyond him.
He saved a match point in the second set to force a decider against Carreno Busta but lost his cool early in the third when he failed to break – launching one racket into the empty stands as he fell to a 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 defeat.
Djokovic let his emotions out early in the third set, hurling one racket into the empty stands
This was the third time Djokovic has played a bronze medal match at the Olympics. He defeated James Blake in Beijing in 2008 but lost to Juan Martin Del Potro in London.
He had made winning a medal for Serbia one of his major goals for the season but his serve, which had gone badly off the boil against Zverev, was missing in action again in the first set and Carreno Busta broke for 3-2 while saving all five break points he faced.
He held his own in the second set, his serve much improved, but Carreno Busta repelled everything Djokovic could throw at him and he came from 1-4 down in the tie-break to force a match point at 5-6.
Djokovic showed his heart was still willing by saving it and taking the contest to a decider but things quickly took another downward turn.
He was also seen smashing another racket against the net post during the game
Remarkably, he did not receive a warning for his behaviour on the court on Saturday
Carreno Busta was the opponent at the US Open last summer when Djokovic was defaulted for hitting a line judge with a ball and, when the Spaniard saved a break point in the opening game, his opponent again had a worrying loss of control, flinging his racket into the stands.
Remarkably, he did not receive a warning, and Carreno Busta was clearly shocked that Djokovic was not given a point penalty when he angrily destroyed another racket after falling 3-0 behind.
He tried to turn the match around but Carreno Busta, who has played the best tennis of his career over the last year, withstood superbly to claim his first Olympic medal, finally clinching his sixth match point.
The 30-year-old lay amid the Olympic rings at the back of the court in celebration as his opponent waited to congratulate him at the net.
Speaking after the match, Djokovic said: ‘I do have a regret for not winning a medal for my country. Opportunities missed both in doubles and singles. I didn’t deliver yesterday and today, the level of tennis dropped, also due to exhaustion, mentally and physically.
‘But, I don’t regret coming to the Olympics at all. Of course not. I believe there is no coincidence in life, everything happens for a reason, and I had some heartbreaking losses at Olympic Games and some big tournaments in my career, and I know that those losses have usually made me stronger, in every aspect.
‘I know that I will bounce back. I will try to keep going for Paris Olympic Games, I will fight for my country to win medals and I’m sorry that I disappointed a lot of sports fans in my country but that’s sport.
‘I gave it all, whatever I had left in the tank, which was not so much. I felt it out on the court. The consequences physically hopefully will not create a problem for me for US Open. That’s something that I’m not sure about right now.
Djokovic admitted to missing an opportunity to medal but said he had no regrets
Speaking about his loss of control, Djokovic said that ‘it was an emotional outburst’
‘But I’m not regretting giving it all because, when you play for your country, that’s necessary.’
Speaking about his loss of control, Djokovic said: ‘It was an emotional outburst and it happens. It’s tense on the court. In the heat of the battle. It’s not the first time and not the last time probably.
‘It’s not nice of course but it’s part of, I guess, who I am. 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 has also pulled out of his mixed doubles bronze medal match, where he and Stojanovic had been due to take on Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and John Peers in a rare meeting of the men’s and women’s world number ones.