Tokyo 2020 round-up: Ireland win first gold medal of Games
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Alexander Zverev has overlooked the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by declaring that Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player of all time after defeating the Serb in the semi-finals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Zverev came from a set down to claim an impressive victory and guarantee at least a silver medal with a place in the final, while Djokovic’s hopes of completing the fabled Golden Slam were shattered in heartbreaking fashion.
The latter was hoping to become the first man to win all four Grand Slam titles plus Olympic gold in the same calendar year, but will instead be forced to battle it out for bronze against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the third place play-off.
Djokovic started well against Zverev and looked to be on course for the final after claiming the first set, before the German powered into a commanding lead by winning eight successive games.
He strolled to victory in the deciding set, condemning his decorated opponent to a rare defeat while earning a place in the Olympic final against Karen Khachanov in the process.
Meanwhile, Djokovic was visibly gutted after failing to hold onto his early advantage, with Zverev comforting the 34-year-old at the net before waxing lyrical over his achievements after the match.
The world No 5 also told reporters that he fully expects Djokovic to win more Grand Slam titles than Federer and Nadal over the course of their respective careers, backing the former’s bid to become the greatest player in history.
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“I feel sorry for Novak,” said Zverev. “But he’s won 20 Grand Slams, 550  Masters series or whatever, you can’t have everything.
“He’s the greatest player of all time, he will win the most Grand Slams out of anybody on tour, but I’m also happy that I’m in the final.”
Zverev appeared to be in big trouble when Djokovic broke in the second set to retain his lead, but the 24-year-old’s subsequent performance was more than deserving of the eventual result at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo.
He will become the first German player to feature in an Olympic singles final since Tommy Haas, who lost out to Yevgeny Kafelnikov back in 2000.
“It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that you’re going to bring the medal back to your house, back home to Germany,” added Zverev.
“It’s incredible beating the best player in the world undoubtedly right now, and in this season. It seemed it was impossible to beat him at this event, so I’m very happy right now. But there’s still one match to go.
“I know that he was chasing history, chasing the Golden Slam and was chasing the Olympics, but in these kind of moments me and Novak are very close.
“Of course I’m happy that I’ve won, but at the end of the day I know how Novak feels. I told him that he’s the greatest of all time, and he will be.”
Djokovic will have to wait another three years for his next chance to complete an unprecedented Golden Slam and was understandably disappointed after Friday’s match.
“Tough day, a really tough day, I feel so terrible right now,” he said. “I was leading a set then a break and he managed to turn the match around.
“He served huge, was attacking, and I was not getting any free points on my first serves and I missed a lot of first serves from 3-2 in the second.
“To play someone of his quality, of his level, it’s just too tough to win a match.”
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