Novak Djokovic came to Tokyo in pursuit of a Golden Slam but after Saturday’s bronze medal match against Spain’s Pablo Carreño Busta, he’ll be leaving empty-handed.
Djokovic’s frustrations boiled over as he abused his racket several times during the 6-4,6-7,6-3 loss to Carreño Busta for the bronze medal in the men’s singles event.
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“It’s part of, I guess, who I am,” he 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.”
The top-ranked Serbian tennis superstar came to Tokyo hoping to become the first man to win all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold all in the same year. Having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, all he needed was a gold medal at the Olympics and a win at the U.S. Open next month.
But extreme temperatures and inconsistent play resulted in a disappointing performance.
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“I just didn’t deliver yesterday and today. The level of tennis dropped. Also due to exhaustion — mentally and physically,” he said. “I gave it all, whatever I had left in the tank — which was not so much.”
Temperatures soared during the first week of the Olympics, sometimes reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of nearly 100 degrees F. Players struggled during their midday matches prompting the International Tennis Federation to adjust the schedule so games could be played later in the day when the heat and humidity weren’t as much of a factor.
Djokovic will now try to win his fourth and final Grand Slam of the year with the U.S. Open next month. If he does, he will become the first man to do so since Rod Laver in 1969.
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“I don’t regret coming to (the) Olympics at all,” Djokovic said. “Everything happens for a reason and (I’ve) had some heart-breaking losses at the Olympic Games and some big tournaments in my career. And I know that those losses have usually made me stronger.”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and The Associated Press contributed to this report.