By Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent, Tokyo
Novak Djokovic’s dreams of a “golden slam” are over after a shock defeat by Alexander Zverev in the Olympic semi-finals.
The world number one was looking to become the first man in history to win all four grand slam titles and Olympic singles gold in the same year but Zverev fought back brilliantly after losing the first set to win 1-6 6-3 6-1.
It is the third time Djokovic has lost in the semi-finals at the Olympics, with his only medal so far a bronze in Beijing in 2008.
— ITF (@ITFTennis) July 30, 2021
He still has a chance of gold here in the mixed doubles with Nina Stojanovic, while he will face Pablo Carreno Busta on Sunday for singles bronze.
Zverev will take on Karen Khachanov of the Russian Olympic Committee for the gold medal, and he was in tears on the court afterwards.
Djokovic had breezed through to the last eight, losing just two games against Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals, but Zverev has also been playing well and this always looked like the biggest hurdle.
Djokovic’s other big opponent was the humidity, with which he has never coped well. He persuaded organisers to shift the start of play back from 11am to 3pm to avoid the worst of the heat but conditions were still extremely difficult despite the match not beginning until nearly 5pm.
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Djokovic, who was on a 23-match winning streak taking in French Open and Wimbledon titles, looked set for another easy victory when he raced through the opening set and broke Zverev for 3-2 in the second.
But from there the match turned on its head, the powerful German beginning to achieve the seemingly impossible of hitting through his opponent as he won a remarkable eight games in a row.
Djokovic finally stopped the rot to hold for 1-4 in the decider but a lacklustre final game showed he knew the game was up.
Khachanov earlier continued his fine form after reaching the quarter-finals of Wimbledon with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Carreno Busta.