Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs.  Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Djokovic led their head-to-head 11:3 going into this match. Del Potro had not defeated him since 2013. Del Potro has been struggling to find his top ten form since wrist surgeries interrupted his brilliant career. Despite his weakened backhand, Djokovic and every other tennis player recognized that Del Potro is still a serious threat. Did anyone give him a chance to defeat Djokovic in the first round of the Olympics? That is the fascinating thing about tennis, on paper the odds were stacked against him; however, if we take a closer look at Djokovic’s tendency to be vulnerable when he desperately wants to win, this loss was not a surprise.
For years Djokovic wanted to win Roland Garros and when he came close to winning it twice, he could not get by the final obstacles. He was only able to win it this year because his two biggest rivals were missing from the tournament. Take a look at Wimbledon, this was the year Djokovic should have won the calendar Grand Slam (Golden Calendar Slam); yet, he stumbled badly in the third round; losing to a player he had only lost to once before in 2012. Wanting something badly can motivate one to do extraordinary things; however, the down side of that desire is that it can become such a burden you end up struggling to perform under its weight.
Del Potro came out focused and determined, almost calm because there were no expectations. His objective was simple, try to play the best that he could. Djokovic came out clearly anxious and that destroyed his game for the entire match. Del Potro’s mental calmness and his lethal forehand gave him the 7-6(4), 7-6(2) victory over Djokovic. While Del Potro celebrates another great Olympic moment; Djokovic must once again deal with a crushing loss at the Olympics to the gentle Argentinian giant.