TOKYO (Reuters) – For Japan’s Naomi Osaka, the Tokyo Games were a chance https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-ten-idCNL8N2OZ06Q to organize a victorious return home after several weeks without them spotlight to focus on his sanity.
And for world number one Novak Djokovic, he was trying to achieve what no other man had done: win all four Grand Slam tournaments in one year plus Olympic gold.
The goals of the two biggest names in the Olympic tennis tournament seemed within reach at the start of the competition but none ultimately lived up to expectations.
Osaka fell https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-japans-osaka-out-tokyo-2020-third-round-2021-07-27 in the third round, while Serbian Djokovic was beaten twice: in the semi-finals of the future gold medalist https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-germanys-zverev-wins-tokyo-games-mens-singles-gold-2021-08 -01 Alexander Zverev of Germany, and a day later by Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze medal match.
Osaka and Djokovic both admitted the pressure to play was too much to handle, joining a conversation https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/biles-spotlights-mental-health-tokyo-covid-cases-hang -over- games-2021-07-28 raised at the Olympics by American gymnast Simone Biles and others on mental loads borne by athletes.
“Pressure is a privilege https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-pressure-is-privilege-history-chasing-djokovic-2021-07-28”, Djokovic said before his loss to Zverev, ranked fifth in the world. He then told reporters that he was unable to increase his level of play due to physical and mental exhaustion, exiting https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-no -medal-djokovic-third-straight-games-2021-07 -31 without a medal for the third consecutive Olympic Games.
Osaka, who lit https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/slimmed-down-ceremony-open-pandemic-hit-tokyo-games-2021-07-23 the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony , said she couldn’t face the pressure of playing at home in her first Games.
Other contenders struggled in stifling conditions in Tokyo, with top ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-australian-world-number-one-ash -barty-out-first- tour-2021-07-25 in his first game, while men’s No.2 Daniil Medvedev lost in the quarter-finals, one round after saying “I can die https: // jp. reuters.com/article/olympics-2020- ten-idCNL4N2P4143 “in the heat.
The organizers eventually postponed the matches https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-itf-accepts-players-requests-delay-start-due-heat-2021-07-28 until the end of the afternoon. The sport’s governing body has also said it will seek to extend the Olympic tournament https://jp.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-ten-idCNL8N2P809K in the future to ensure adequate rest for players.
With the open women’s singles draw, Belinda Bencic triumphed https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-spains-carreno-busta-beats-listless-djokovic-bronze-2021-07-31 on Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic becomes the first Swiss woman to win tennis gold. Newly married Ukrainian Elina Svitolina won bronze.
The Russian Olympic Committee won three tennis medals, the most of any nation, including a silver for men’s singles finalist Karen Khachanov.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)