Novak Djokovic recalls: ‘I was motivated, but my rival played better’

The Olympic Games tennis tournament in London 2012 took place at Wimbledon, just a couple of weeks after the season’s third Major on the same courts. The All England Club welcomed the world’s leading players (Rafael Nadal was not there due to an injury), with Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic as the favorites. Federer and Murray played in the Wimbledon final. They reached the semis at the Olympics, joined by Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro. Murray and Djokovic set the semi-final encounter, their 14th on the Tour. Carried by the partisan crowd, Andy prevailed over Novak 7-5, 7-5 in two hours, beating the Serb for the sixth time and advancing into the gold medal clash. The Briton won ten points more and delivered more effective tennis in the decisive moments to seal the deal in straight sets and reach the second Wimbledon final within a month. Murray fended off all four break chances and grabbed two late return games to tame Djokovic’s resistance.

They had a similar number of winners and unforced errors, and Murray forged the essential advantage in the forced errors department. Andy had the upper hand in the shortest and more advanced rallies and held his focus when it mattered the most to keep dreaming about the gold medal. Djokovic faced two break chances in the encounter’s second game and repelled both with winners to avoid an early setback. The Briton had to work hard at 3-3, surviving four deuces and bringing the game home when the Serb sprayed a backhand mistake.

Novak Djokovic lost to Andy Murray in two tight sets in London 2012. 

Murray held with a booming serve at 5-5 and placed a forehand crosscourt winner in the next one to steal the set before a tie break and give the crowd something to cheer about. Djokovic wasted a break chance at the beginning of the second set and netted a backhand to hand the game to Murray. Serving at 1-1, the Briton saved a break chance with a drop shot winner and closed the game with an unreturned serve. Both players performed well on serve in the next five games to stay locked at 4-4. Novak won three consecutive points on the return in the ninth game to earn a break chance, denied by Andy’s service winner. The Serb was a better player in those moments, making one last push before the tie break after earning the fourth and final break opportunity at 5-5. Murray saved it with a powerful forehand and forced Djokovic’s error to open a 6-5 gap and secure a heavy boost. Novak cracked under pressure while serving to stay in the match and got broken at love in game 12 to propel Andy over the finish line. 

“I do not know how it looked from outside the court, but I had plenty of motivation, just like my rival. Andy played better in the crucial points; his serve worked like a charm, and he used it efficiently whenever needed. I had break chances in the second set, pushing him to the limits in every return game, especially at 5-5. It did not work for me, and I’m disappointed with the loss. I have to congratulate Andy; he deserves to be in the final. The atmosphere was great, as always when you play for your country. The crowd was on Andy’s side, which was expected at Wimbledon. They provided him with positive energy, and he used it in his favor. I will try to wake up tomorrow, compose myself and gather all the positive energy. The motivation is there, and I will try to repeat what I did in Beijing four years ago and claim the medal. The loss is even more disappointing when I know I fought for my country,” Novak Djokovic said.