Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player in the world, is no longer chasing a Golden Slam, but he can win an Olympic bronze medal on Saturday.
Djokovic, of Serbia, is playing a tough back-and-forth match against Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain after both players were eliminated in their semifinals on Friday. They were both ranked higher than their semifinal opponents, yet it will be Alexander Zverev of Germany (who beat Djokovic) facing Karen Khachanov of Russia on Sunday for the gold.
Carreño Busta won the first set, 6-4, after securing an early break of Djokovic’s serve. Djokovic won the second in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (6), by outlasting Carreño Busta in several long rallies, including one that could have given Carreño Busta the set.
Both players dealt with stifling heat throughout the first two sets — 90 degrees and humid, even in the shade of center court — with what felt like the full force of the sun bearing down on the hardcourt. By the beginning of the third set, two hours after their match began, their court was fully in the shade.
Tennis players up and down each draw have struggled throughout these tournaments to cope with the heat. Their only moments of relief on center court, it seems, come when they sit underneath large white umbrellas on each changeover, where they can have a cold drink and use a large circular hose that blows cold air.
The men’s match is the first course in a triple-header on center court. Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan plays Elina Svitolina of Ukraine for a bronze medal, then Belinda Bencic of Switzerland faces Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic on Saturday night.