If Novak Djokovic could change one match in his tennis career — the Olympics

Novak Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic has won just about everything in tennis — all four Grand Slam tournaments, the only man to win all nine Masters Series events, a Davis Cup. But, his trophy cabinet is missing an Olympic gold medal.

So this exchange on Friday with Andy Murray, in an Instagram live, came as little shock:

Murray: If you could go back and change one result in your career, which would you choose?

Djokovic: I think it would be related to Olympic Games. So, maybe the match I played against you in London [7-5, 7-5 in the semifinals] or Rafa in Beijing 2008 [6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the semifinals].

Murray: Was that in the semis?

Djokovic: Yeah, I lost semis, also very close [to Nadal]. It was 3-all, 4-all, I had like 15-30, 15-40, something like that. I lost like, I think, 6-4 [or] 7-5 in the third. I missed an overhead, very easy overhead, which is quite typical of me throughout my career.

Murray: I think I’ve seen that one a couple of times.

Djokovic: I would say Olympic Games because I for sure, I was very fortunate to have the great success in my career and win all four Slams. And all Masters Series. But, you know, I did win bronze in Beijing, but I was really feeling good about myself. For example, in ’16, in Brazil, in Rio.

Murray: You had a tough draw there, to be fair. [Juan Martin del Potro won 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) in the first round]

Djokovic: Del Potro, [who] went on to play with you in the finals. It was a very tough match, two tiebreaks, and I remember two days before the match, I was practicing, and I was feeling great. I did lose third round of Wimbledon, so I had enough time to get ready. I won Canada, and I came to Rio full of confidence, was probably, I had like 15 best months of my career behind me before Rio. Then I remember, I was practicing for two hours on the center court singles. Then I went on with Serbian guys to practice for another hour, hour and a half doubles, and I started to feel my wrist at the end of the doubles sets that we played. And I was like, well, I’m tired. It started to be more painful, more painful, and I don’t want this to sound like an excuse, that it’s because of that I lost to del Potro. Absolutely not. I was able. I did get some injections. I had to go out on the court and try, but I felt really sad that I wasn’t at my best, and I had a really tough draw. I felt like, if I had maybe a slightly better draw, that I could kind of work my way in the tournament. So, probably, yes, if I had a chance to turn back the time and maybe change the outcomes, it would be probably Rio or London with you in ’12.

Murray, the Olympic singles gold medalist in 2012 and 2016, said the one match he would like to have back was his 2016 French Open final loss to Djokovic. Murray has played Djokovic in seven Grand Slam finals, winning two of them.

Djokovic was all but assured of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics when sports were halted due to the coronavirus. Murray, coming back from a hip injury he thought would be career-ending, needed decent results in the spring to automatically qualify in singles, though he also is eligible for a wild card as a past Grand Slam or Olympic champion.

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