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"The image is not the best": Rafael Nadal calls out Novak Djokovic for Olympics outburst
The world No. 1 launched his racquet into the empty Tokyo arena during his bronze medal match against Pablo Carreño Busta.
Published Aug 02, 2021
Novak Djokovic has found himself facing strong criticism for his on-court demeanor at the Tokyo Olympics. The Serbian who was looking to bring home a medal for his country came home empty handed and fell to an always tough Pablo Carreno Busta in the Bronze medal match over the weekend. Djokovic is known as one of the most passionate players in the game, but sometimes his will to win can lead to anger when things don't go according to plan.
After falling to eventual gold medal winner Alexander Zverev in the semifinal the day before, Djokovic came out sluggish against the Spaniard—dropping the first set 6-4. However, being the fighter he is he managed to tie things up and saved one match point to force a decider. In the opening game of the final set, things quickly spiraled out of control for the world No. 1 when he was unable to chase down a perfectly executed drop shot from Carreno Busta.
In frustration, Djokovic launched his racquet into Tokyo's empty arena sensing he missed an opportunity to break the world No. 11. Djokovic saw his hopes of winning not only a Golden Slam but an Olympic medal crumble.
Ahead of his Citi Open campaign in Washington D.C., rival Rafael Nadal was questioned about Djokovic's outburst at the Summer Games.
“The image is not the best," Nadal told press. It is important to avoid this type of situation, especially as a role model for many children.
“In the end he is world number one and one of the best in history, it is strange that someone so successful reacts in this way from time to time, but in the end he’s very competitive and reacts like this.”
The 2008 gold medalist seemed confused and doesn't exactly understand why a player who has achieved so much reacts this way, but was happy no one was sitting in the stands.
“Luckily there were no people in the stands and nothing else happened, but hey, they are things that happen from time to time,” Nadal said.
This is not the first time Djokovic's frustration has gotten the best of him against Carreno Busta. At the 2020 US Open, he infamously struck a ball in anger that hit a linesperson during their Round of 16 bout, which resulted in tournament officials defaulting the 20-time major champion from the New York event.
Citing a shoulder issue, Djokovic withdrew from the bronze medal mixed doubles match with partner Nina Stojanović.