There was more disappointment for Novak Djokovic following his singles semi-final loss when he and his partner, Nina Stojanovic, failed to reach the mixed doubles final going out in straight tight sets, 7-6(5) 7-5, to Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina playing under the Russian Olympic Committee ‘neutral’ flag.
As far as the Serbia Team were concerned, it must have been a disastrous day especially as they had warned Djokovic against doubling up in two separate competitions. And it would seem they were proved right leaving their star player now with just a Grand Slam target (rather than a Golden one) and the prospect of just two Bronze medals instead of the greater value ones!
The ROC pairing were quick to take control early no doubt taking advantage of a mentally tired Djokovic but that was short lived as the Serbians struck back to level only to fail to claim a set point in the 10th game.
In the subsequent tie-break Karatsev and Vesnina won four consecutive points to take a 4-1 lead and looked to be taking control when a few points later, the closed the set out.
But after losing that tight first set, Djokovic and Stojanovic responded by breaking their opponents in the opening game of the second set but again failed to hold on to the advantage and then, in the eighth game, were broken again to lose the semi-final.
Earlier Andrey Rublev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the fourth seeds from the ROC, defeated Australia’s John Peers and Ashleigh Barty, recovering from a set down to secure a 5-7 6-4 13-11 victory.
The fourth seeds saved a set point in the 10th game of the opening set but couldn’t do the same two games later as Barty and Peers converted their third set point to win a tight opener.
But Rublev and Pavlyuchenkova bounced back strongly by securing back-to-back breaks for five consecutive games and romp into a 5-1 second set lead.
With a Gold Medal match at stake, Peers and Barty struck back to reduce the deficit to just one game only for the ROC representatives to raise their game to hold on an level the match forcing a best of ten-point third set tie-break.
The pair saved a match point and at their third opportunity closed it out after 101-minutes to make the final playing together for the first time in their careers. The pair are now favourites to win the Mixed title.
The day though will be remembered for those losses incurred by Novak Djokovic which might well give heart to his opponents on the circuit who have started to believe he is invincible, but, as Zverev said: “You can’t have everything!”