Only human

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, by far the best tennis player in the world, fell apart twice and was ousted from the Olympics without a medal. Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain beat him for the bronze, after Sascha Zervev of Germany had defeated him in the semi's.

My hat's off to the Djoker. He didn't have to go to Tokyo, and when he got there, he was a good sport for the other athletes. He was cruising, but when Zverev found himself on the ropes, the German came out swinging hard, and connecting. When things started to turn for Novak, he lost his cool. He was a mess in the bronze medal match.

Complicating his losses, he withdrew from the bronze medal match in mixed doubles, leaving his partner, Nina Stojanovic, high and dry. But at that point, his head was in a bad place, and an ugly defeat to Ash Barty and John Peers seemed likely. Still, you wish he had muddled through. Obviously, he took on too much.

Zverev will face Karen Khachanov of The Team Formerly Known as Russia for the men's singles gold. The mixed doubles gold medal match is all players from You-Know-Where: Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev. (As usual, it ain't -ova 'til it's -ova.)

It's a bruising exit from Japan for Djokovic, but hey, it's the Olympics. A lot of the best athletes collapse, across the spectrum of events. Tennis this time around was no different. Ash Barty lost in the first round. Naomi Osaka lit the torch but was eliminated. Stefanos Tsitsipas hit the road on Wednesday. 

The next big prize in tennis is the U.S. Open in New York, and if Djokovic wins that, he has a calendar grand slam. The last one of those by a man was 52 years ago. The question now is whether he can get enough rest and get his head on straight in time to do it.