Pablo Carreno Busta upset World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the men's singles bronze medal playoff at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. That gave Carreno Busta his first ever Olympic medal, and Spain its first in tennis at the ongoing edition.
Pablo Carreno Busta hit a big ball on his forehand all match long against Novak Djokovic, who looked drained from his semifinal loss to Alexander Zverev. The Spaniard even held a match point on Djokovic's serve during the second-set tiebreaker, but the Serb showed plenty of resilience to save it before eventually winning the tiebreaker 8-6.
Carreno Busta, however, refused to let the disappointment linger too long. He played the same brand of aggressive tennis in the deciding set to record a second-career victory over Djokovic in two hours and 49 minutes.
Speaking to the Spanish press later, Pablo Carreno Busta expressed delight at his performance in the bronze medal playoff, calling it the biggest achievement of his life. The Spaniard also thanked his local fans for motivating him to bounce back from his semifinal defeat to Karen Khachanov.
"I think this my biggest achievement," Carreno Busta said. "It's incredible. After yesterday's loss I felt people's love & support and I had to give my all. I've been able to overcome losing the second set thanks to all the support. It's just bronze but I gave my all. Thanks!"
Carreno Busta then reflected on the mid-match stumble, claiming that he thought he was dead meat after Djokovic took the second set. The Spaniard added that it was "incredible" that he could hang tough in the situation and bring home an Olympic medal.
Carreno Busta went on to dedicate his bronze medal to his girlfriend, his mother, and the city of Gijon in Spain.
"I'm in a cloud. After losing 2nd set I thought it was over," Carreno Busta said. "Winning over the World No. 1 is very tough. After losing second set I thought I'd not be able to do it. But I was! It's incredible. I came here for a medal, it's been tough but I've got it! For my girlfriend, my mother, Gijón, Spain."
"A bronze that is worth gold" - Diego Schwartzman on Pablo Carreno Busta's achievement at the Olympics
Pablo Carreno Busta was congratulated by many of his peers after the match, including 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal and World No. 13 Diego Schwartzman.
Nadal, who won the 2016 China Open doubles partnering Carreno Busta, uploaded an Instagram story congratulating his countryman.
"Great Pablo!!! What a joy! Congratulations!" Rafael Nadal wrote.
Diego Schwartzman, who is good friends with Pablo Carreno Busta, expressed his happiness at the Spaniard winning the bronze medal against all odds. Schwartzman even called it "a bronze that is worth gold".
"I get up and see the bronze of @ pablocarreno91 !!! What a great job from him and his entire team. Great circuit companion. Bravo guys, a bronze that is worth gold," Schwartzman wrote.