Alexander Zverev stands one win away from the biggest title of his tennis career after knocking off Novak Djokovic to set up a date with Karen Khachanov in the finals of the Olympic men’s singles event.
Zverev defeated the No. 1 ranked Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Friday to advance to the gold medal match.
Djokovic comes up short in ‘Golden Slam’ bid
That ended Djokovic’s bid to become the first man to win the “Golden Slam” – winning all four Grand Slam events and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. He has already won the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon titles in 2021. Steffi Graf remains the only tennis player to accomplish the feat, as she did so in 1988.
Zverev celebrated his win, but also recognized what the loss meant to Djokovic.
“I told him that he’s the greatest of all time. I know that he was chasing history,” Zverev said after the win. “He won 20 Grand Slams, so you can’t have everything. At the end of the day he’s the greatest of all time, because he’s going to win the most Grand Slams, he’s going to win the most Master Series, he’s going to be the longest at the world No. 1, and I’m 99 percent that this is the case when it’s all said and done.”
Zverev will now face Khachanov, who represents the Russian Olympic Committee at Tokyo. Khachanov booked his spot in the gold medal match with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
Khachanov currently ranks No. 25 in the world, and has never gone beyond the quarterfinal stage of a Grand Slam. That makes this run especially meaningful for the Russian, who is guaranteed to return home with a medal now.
“I play tennis for those moments,” Khachanov said after his semifinal win. “I practice for these kind of matches and you know, when you get there, when it’s paying off, it’s just a pure pleasure to be here. [It’s] the kind of memories that will stay forever.”
Zverev favorite to win gold medal
Zverev comes into the match as a substantial favorite. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the German as the -330 pick to win gold over Khachanov (+230) on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Carreno Busta upset Djokovic for the bronze medal on Saturday. The Spaniard jumped out to an early lead and held on to win 6-4, 6-7 (8-6), 6-3 to claim his Olympic medal.
Incredibly emotional Pablo Carreno Busta interview on the Olympic Channel after his bronze medal win over Djokovic. “I never feel something like this. It’s a Bronze medal but for me it’s like a Gold.” pic.twitter.com/dd54EJfjfz
— Ashish Malhotra (@amalhotra2) July 31, 2021
“I never feel something like this,” Carreno Busta said after the win. “It’s a bronze medal but for me it’s like a gold.”
The women’s singles tournament also wrapped up on Saturday. Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic defeated Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to win gold. Bencic has a chance at a second gold medal on Sunday, when her and partner Viktorija Golubic play in the women’s doubles final.