Novak Djokovic wanted to win that gold medal in Tokyo 2021, the only missing piece in a wonderful career, but Alexander Zverev did what no normal man has been able to this year: beat the Serbian in an important competition.
We emphasize, an important competition, not a Grand Slam. That, Djokovic's real goal, awaits him between August and September in Flushing Meadwows. But in the meantime Djokovic will have to settle for the final for the bronze medal.
So after the bronze of 2008, the quarters of 2012 and the first round of 2016, Novak's Olympic dreams are probably extinguished forever. Finish the Golden Slam dream. And to think that the match had started well for the Serbian world no.1.
Having dominated the first set 6-1, the second set started in the wake of the first, with Djokovic dominating, canceling a break point in the second serving game and continuing to be in control of the match. The situation does not change and in the fifth game there is the break that could have been decisive with Zverev who concedes two break points and on the second occasion Nole closes and goes 3-2.
Here the whole story changes dramatically and Nole has the first of many black outs with Zverev manages to achieve zero counterbreak. Zverev gains confidence and increases in performance, a more passive Nole goes into difficulty and Zverev guarantees himself the possibility of serving for the set at 5-3.
In the ninth game we go to the advantages for Zverev takes advantage of the break and takes the game to the third set.
Novak Djokovic is already the GOAT: the defeat in Tokyo is irrelevant
At the end of the second set Nole goes to the locker room, but the beginning of the third does not change with Zverev attacking and Djokovic in clear difficulty.
In the first game there is the break immediately, Nole has several chances for the counterbreak but fails and indeed it is Zverev to carry on. The German wins 8 consecutive games and even goes ahead clearly for 4 to 0 in the third.
Djokovic tries to react, but by now he seems physically broken, he can't do it and collapses 6-1 in the third set. The Serbian leaves and for him there will be the final for the 3-4 place in addition to the semi-finals of mixed doubles.
Does this change the opinion on the season and on Novak Djokovic's career? Absolutely not. The defeat against Zverev is very painful, especially for a cannibal who wants to swallow everything, but ultimately irrelevant.
In September the Serbian will have a new opportunity to rewrite the history of tennis, and if he succeeds, few will remember the semi-final in Tokyo 2021. After all, the Grand Slams are the most important tournaments for a tennis player, the tournaments for the which ones are remembered.
And an Olympic medal, gold, silver or bronze, is always an honor, no matter what metal it is made of. Should Nole win the Olympic bronze, it would not be a half success, but an important success, because every Olympic medal is important.
There are athletes who would sell their mother in order to win an Olympic medal. In retrospect, in 10, 20 or 50 years, Djokovic will be talked about as the GOAT of tennis, and all the detractors or the crowds who hate him, will have to deal with it.