Alexander Zverev, Germany's top-ranked player, defeated the Serb 1-6, 6-3 and 6-1 Friday in semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics tennis tournament.
Djokovic wanted to be the first man to win all four Grand Slam tournaments as well as Olympic gold simultaneously. Djokovic won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and French Open this year. He also needed the Olympic title and the U.S. Open title to complete his collection.
Steffi Graf, 1988 is the only tennis player who has won the Golden Slam.
Zverev stated that Zverev won 20 Grand Slams. "So, you can't have it all."
Karen Khachanov will play Zverev in the gold-medal match. The Russian defeated Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain 6-3, 3-3.
Djokovic won't lose since being beaten by Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open final 2 1/2 month ago. He will now face Carreno Busta to win bronze.
After a strong start, Djokovic made a series uncharacteristic mistakes at the Ariake Tennis Park. Zverev (6'6") started to win free points by his big serve.
Zverev's backhand winner on the line was so close that Djokovic couldn't make it count, Djokovic walked towards the net and was embraced by Zverev. Djokovic replied by resting his head against Zverev's shoulder while the pair exchanged words.
Zverev stated, "I told him he was the greatest of all times." "I know he was chasing history. He was chasing the (the) Golden Slam. We are very close. ... I am happy to have won. But, at the end of it all, I know how he feels.
Djokovic was expected to return almost immediately on the court with her Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic, in the mixed doubles semifinals against Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina.
Djokovic is playing two matches for the third day in succession.
Viktor Troicki, Serbia's Olympic team coach, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the entire team was against Djokovic playing mixed doubles because they didn't want the event to tire him out with so much on the line in singles.
The gold-medal singles match without Djokovic will lack star power. Zverev's greatest career achievement was reaching the U.S. Open final last year, while Khachanov, the 25th-ranked player is coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Wimbledon and is now in his biggest final.
Zverev described it as "probably the proudest moment in my career so far."
He said, "Because i'm not just playing for myself, I'm also playing for my brothers, my parents, and my family." "But I'm also playing (for) everybody, all the (German), athletes back at the base, and everyone back at home."
Later, the all-Croatian gold medal match in men’s doubles features the top-seeded couple of Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic against Marin Cilic or Ivan Dodig.
The New Zealand team of Marcus Daniell, Michael Venus and Michael Venus won the first medal at the tennis competition. They took bronze in men’s doubles, beating Austin Krajicek of the United States 7-6 (3) and 6-2.
Venus and Daniell became the first New Zealand tennis players to win a medal since 1912 when Anthony Wilding won bronze in singles for Australasia. Wilding, New Zealand’s only Grand Slam singles champion, had six titles and was 31 years old when he was killed in World War I.