Serbia woke to despair after Novak Djokovic failed in his attempt to make tennis history, becoming the first man in more than 50 years to win a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Instead of the usual fireworks, horns of cars and dancing in the streets after the last major final involving Djokovic, the Serbian capital was in an eerie silence. Top-ranked Djokovic lost to Russian rival Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the US Open on Sunday.
A win would have made Djokovic, 34, the first person to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same year as Rod Laver did in 1969.
He would also have won a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, breaking ties with both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
“It was now or never for a calendar slam, but the 21st slam is too much,” Serbian tennis journalist Sasa Ozmo wrote on the SK Sporclub portal.
Djokovic’s crazy fans were divided on what he should do next.
Some fans on social media in Serbia called for Djokovic to retire while topping the rankings, while others believe he will rebound and be regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time.
“Noelle, you are the greatest even without a calendar Grand Slam,” wrote the Blick daily in a headline.
“Djokovic Mrs. A Historic Chance,” wrote the N1 portal, while the Kurir tabloid noted “Even a Rock Will Cry”.
After the match, Djokovic cut short his news conference with Serbian media in tears.
Djokovic said, ‘I feel disappointed and sad because a huge opportunity has been missed. “It is not easy to bear such a defeat.”
Djokovic did not say what he would do next or where he would play.
“To be honest, I have no plans. Absolutely nothing,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll play anything anywhere or not. At the moment, I am here in New York with my thoughts.
“Of course, my life is completely different now… I’d like to spend more time with my kids,” said Djokovic, crying.
Djokovic also showed some rare spirit on the court. As his Grand Slam bid ended late in the match, he covered his face with a towel, hiding his tears during a changeover.
Tennis great Boris Becker, Djokovic’s former coach, said the pressure to make history was too much.
“He wasn’t mentally prepared,” Baker said, “to control his emotions.”
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