One of the biggest storylines of this year’s Tokyo Olympics will be whether Novak Djokovic can win the gold and complete a Career Golden Slam, something only two men—Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi—have ever done.
But for all of the talk about what Djokovic is missing on his Olympic resume, many people overlook the fact that he already has an Olympic medal, capturing the bronze in Beijing in 2008. And he barely lost out on a spot in the gold medal match that year, too.
The Serb lost a two-hour, 11-minute thriller against Nadal in the semifinals, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, getting broken in the final game of the match after missing an overhead on match point—that was after he actually had a point to hold for five-all in the deciding set.
But Djokovic rebounded the next day, beating James Blake, 6-3, 7-6 (4), in the bronze medal match. Blake had taken out Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.
“To win any medal in the Olympics is a huge achievement for any athlete. Not many athletes get a chance to win a medal,” Djokovic said afterwards.
“For me, this bronze shines like a gold.”
Djokovic wasn’t far from winning another medal in London in 2012, falling to Andy Murray in the semifinals, 7-5, 7-5, and then to Juan Martin del Potro in the bronze medal match, 7-5, 6-4—Murray, who had just reached the Wimbledon final, would go on to beat Federer in the gold medal match, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, and would win his first Grand Slam title a month later at the US Open.
Djokovic had one of the unluckiest draws of all time at the last Olympics in Rio in 2016, having to face Del Potro again in the first round. Del Potro took out the No. 1, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2).