Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta defeats Novak Djokovic to claim Olympic bronze

Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain, returns a shot to Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, during the bronze medal match of the tennis competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Pablo Carreno Busta has claimed Spain's first Olympic medal in singles tennis since Rafael Nadal in 2008.

The 30-year-old Carreno Busta defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 to earn bronze in the men's singles tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

This is Carreno Busta's first Olympic podium, the victorious ending to a journey that saw him beat World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals and Croatian star Marin Cilic in the second round. He lost his semifinal matchup with Russian Karen Khachanov in straight sets on Friday.

Carreno Busta follows the footsteps of legendary Spaniard Nadal, who won the gold medal in the Beijing Games in 2008. Nadal also has a gold medal in Olympic doubles, winning it all beside partner Marc Lopez in 2016.

After taking the first set and dropping the second in the tiebreaker, Carreno Busta opened a comfortable 3-0 lead in the third -- causing a frustrated Djokovic to smash his racquet -- before closing it out at 6-3. Djokovic didn't make it easy, saving a handful of match points in the final game.

Djokovic once again fell short of replicating his bronze-medal performance from Beijing. In London 2012, the Serb was picked as the flag bearer for his nation, but lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the matchup for third place. Del Potro was Djokovic's undoing yet again in the 2016 Rio Games, defeating the world's top player in the very first round.

Carreno Busta is currently No. 15 in the ATP rankings. The Barcelona native has six career ATP singles titles and a Davis Cup win with Spain.

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