Novak Djokovic says he "regrets" not winning an Olympic medal for Serbia, admits he's "not sure" about his fitness ahead of US Open

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
Rudra Biswas

Novak Djokovic's campaign at the Tokyo Olympics came to an end on Saturday as he was beaten by Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze medal playoff.

Djokovic looked extremely flat at the start of the match, possibly a consequence of his emotionally draining semifinal loss to Alexander Zverev on Friday. Carreno Busta, on his part, was unrelenting from the back of the court and took the opening set 6-4.

Djokovic hit back in the second set and saved a match point in the tiebreak before forcing a decider. Carreno Busta, however, did not suffer a let down. He continued to unleash a barrage of powerful forehands at Djokovic, eventually registering a 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 win to claim the bronze medal in Tokyo.

Shortly after his loss to Carreno Busta, Djokovic withdrew from the mixed doubles event due to a shoulder injury, meaning he will be leaving Tokyo empty handed. Djokovic and Nina Stojanovic were scheduled to face Australia's Ashleigh Barty and John Peers in the bronze medal match.

Speaking to the media after his loss to Carreno Busta, a disappointed Djokovic said he regretted not bringing home a medal for his country. The 20-time Major winner also revealed that mental and physical exhaustion contributed to his underwhelming display.

"[I] do have a regret for not winning a medal for my country, both in singles and mixed," Djokovic said. "I just didn’t deliever. Level of tennis dropped, also due to exhaustion mentally and physically."

Djokovic won the first three Majors of the year and came to Tokyo hoping to win the gold medal. Claiming top honors would have moved Djokovic a step closer to achieving an unprecedented Golden Slam. But his hopes were dashed as he was defeated by Alexander Zverev in the semifinals on Friday.

The World No. 1, however, maintained that he didn't regret his decision to participate in Tokyo. Djokovic said he intends to take away important lessons from his defeats in the Japanese city.

"I don’t regret coming to Olympics at all. I believe that there are no coincidences in life, everything happens for a reason," Djokovic added. "I had some heartbreaking losses at Olympics and big tournaments, and I know that those losses have usually made me stronger."

The Serb also apologized to his fans and insisted that he tried his best to earn laurels for his country. Djokovic also indicated that he would continue his quest for a maiden Olympic gold medal at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

"I know that I will bounce back, I will try to keep going in Paris, to try to win a medal for my country." Djokovic said. "I am sorry I disappointed a lot of fans in Serbia, but that’s sport, I gave it all, whatever I had left in the tank, which was not so much."

The Serb said playing Grand Slams and representing his country in the Olympics, the ATP Cup and the Davis Cup motivates him to keep going.

“Three years, not that far, but on the other hand it is, since I do not have 25 years anymore,” Djokovic said. “I do not see the finish line of my career. Olympics, Davis Cup, ATP Cup, and the Grand Slams, those are the tournaments that inspire me the most to go on. It is a privilege to play for Serbia, I want to play in Paris. If I am there, I hope to win a medal."

"I hope that the physical consequences won’t create a problem for me for the US Open" - Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic and Pablo Carreno Busta embrace at the net
Novak Djokovic and Pablo Carreno Busta embrace at the net

During the interaction with the press, Novak Djokovic also revealed the toll that his Olympic campaign had taken on his body. The Serb admitted he played through multiple injuries, but hopes to be fully fit in time for the US Open next month.

My body said ’enough’: I have played under medications and abnormal pain and exhaustion. My heart is in the right place, because I know that I gave my all," Djokovic said.
"I hope that the physical consequences won’t create a problem for me for the US Open. That is something I am not sure about right now, but there are no regrets, you have to give your all for your country," he added.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram

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