Novak Djokovic suffered his second shock in as many months. In July, Sam Querrey stunned the Serb in the Wimbledon third round. And tonight, Djokovic’s dream of a singles gold medal Olympic this year came to a crashing end at the powerful hands of Juan Martin del Potro.
The Argentine who a year ago was teetering on retirement, used his massive forehand to crack 29 of his 41 winners in his fourth win over Djokovic 7-6(2), 7-6(4) victory.
“It was a great atmosphere and a great match for me,” del Potro said. “I hit my forehand as hard as I can, I hit a lot of winners, I served well and my backhand was okay. I tried just to put in court the ball and put in good slices as well. I didn’t expect to beat Novak tonight. It’s an amazing night for me.”
It was Djokovic’s third straight loss in the Olympic singles event with the last two to del Potro in straight sets.
“Delpo was just a better player and he deserved to win, that’s just sport. At decisive moments he came up with some extraordinary tennis and I just have to congratulate him,” Djokovic said.
“It’s obviously very sad and disappointing to go out in a tournament this early but on the other hand I am glad a good friend of mine and someone who has struggled a lot in the last couple of years is back and plays at this level.
“No doubt it is one of the toughest losses in my life and in my career, it’s not easy to handle especially now just after the match, the wounds are still fresh, but you gotta deal with it, it’s not the first time I am losing a match but Olympics Games is completely different.”
While Djokovic left in tears, he will still have a chance to win a gold in the men’s doubles and the mixed if he so chooses.
Meanwhile, former gold medalists Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray both cruised in their openers.
Playing his first match since the French Open, Nadal crushed Federico Delbonis 6-2, 6-1. Nadal later won again in doubles but the wrist, he said, is still not at full strength.
“If there was not Olympic Games here I would not be competing,” Nadal said. “The wrist need a little more time to be 100% recovered. It’s only one chance every four years and is something unforgettable. I missed London so I didn’t want to miss this one. I am enjoying a lot, I am happy, I am doing the best thing I can do every single moment to be ready for the action and today was a great feeling on court.”
Murray won his eighth straight over Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-2 in his gold defense opener.
“I’m not defending the gold medal – I keep that, I don’t have to give it back,” Murray said. “It’s trying to win another medal is what builds the pressure and wanting to do something here is the pressure I am putting on myself. I’m not thinking what happened four years ago, which was an amazing experience for me. Having the Olympics come so soon after Wimbledon, which was a big win for me, it would’ve been easy to have a bit of a lull after that, but that’s not going to happen with the Olympics.
“It’s worked out extremely well and I hope I can have another good run here.”
On tap Monday, del Potro is back along with Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
MONDAY RIO OLYMPICS SCHEDULE
starting at 10:45
(11) KVITOVA Petra (CZE) vs WOZNIACKI Caroline (DEN)
not before 12:00
BOUCHARD Eugenie (CAN) vs (2) KERBER Angelique (GER)
SOUSA Joao (POR) vs DEL POTRO Juan Martin (ARG)
not before 18:45
(1) WILLIAMS Serena (USA) vs CORNET Alize (FRA)
MILLMAN John (AUS) vs (4) NISHIKORI Kei (JPN)
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