Alexander Zverev is the first German man to reach the final of an Olympic tennis tournament since 1988. The 20-year-old will play either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer in Sunday’s final for a chance to win his first ever gold medal.
Alexander Zverev beat Novak Djokovic to reach the final of the Tokyo Olympics.
|Dates: July 23rd to August 8th, Tokyo time: BST +8|
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After losing to Alexander Zverev in the Olympic tennis semi-finals, Novak Djokovic’s chances of achieving a ‘Golden Slam’ are gone.
The world number one, Serb Djokovic, was attempting to make history by becoming the first player to win all four Grand Slam championships as well as an Olympic gold medal in the same year.
But Zverev, a 24-year-old German, fought back from a set down to win 1-6 6-3 6-1 at Tokyo’s Ariake Tennis Park.
In the final on Sunday, the fourth seed will face Russian Karen Khachanov.
Khachanov, the world number 25 and 12th seed, defeated Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3 6-3 earlier on Friday.
“I feel awful,” Djokovic remarked, refusing to blame the oppressive humidity.
“It’s just a game.” He was a superior player. You have to give him credit for reversing the match’s outcome. He did an excellent job of serving. At the second serve, I wasn’t getting many glances.
“My serve has suddenly decreased significantly. From a 3-2 lead in the second, I didn’t earn any free points. My game was ruined.”
Djokovic, 34, and compatriot Nina Stojanovic were knocked out of the mixed doubles semi-finals after a 7-6 7-5 loss to Russians Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev beat Australians Ashleigh Barty and John Peers in their semi-final, ensuring an all-Russian final.
Against Saturday, Djokovic takes on Carreno Busta in the singles, where he will compete for a bronze medal in both competitions. His previous best performance at the Olympics was a bronze medal in Beijing in 2008.
Djokovic broke the all-time record most weeks at number one in March, and with his sixth Wimbledon victory this month, he matched Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for a record 20 Grand Slam championships.
This year, he also won the Australian and French Opens.
In 1988, Steffi Graf became the first woman to win all four Grand Slams as well as the Olympic gold medal.
“I told him that he’s the best of all time, and he will be,” Zverev said when asked about hugging Djokovic at the net after his win.
“I understand he was chasing history, but in these kind of situations, Novak and I are extremely close.”
“I pity Novak, because he’s won 20 Grand Slams, 550 Masters series, or whatever you want to call it. It’s impossible to have it all.”
Djokovic did not drop a set in his first four matches in Tokyo, and he breezed through the first set of the semi-final in 37 minutes before falling down a break in the second.
However, Zverev won 10 games in a row to capture the second set and a commanding lead in the third, with Djokovic seeming helpless to stop the world number five from closing it up with three breaks in the final.
In 2018, Zverev defeated Djokovic to win the ATP Finals at London, and he has only reached one Grand Slam final, falling to Dominic Thiem in the US Open last year.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know you’re going to carry a medal home,” Zverev said.
“Beating him at this tournament looked impossible, so I’m overjoyed right now, but there’s still one match to go.”
Wimbledon winners Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic won the inaugural tennis gold medal in the men’s doubles after defeating fellow Croats Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig.
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