World no.1 suffers shock two-set defeat by Argentine who is ranked 141st in the world
On a night of shocks at the Olympic Tennis Centre in Rio de Janeiro, world no.1 Novak Djokovic left centre court in tears after crashing out in the first round of the men’s singles, losing 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-2) to Juan Martin Del Potro.
Both players were left in tears, Argentina’s Del Potro at the sheer scale of his victory – three wrist surgeries that had him contemplating retirement have seen him drop to 141st in the world – while Djokovic’s desire to win a first Olympic gold medal must wait at least another four years, when the Serb will be 33.
Earlier in the evening Great Britain men’s doubles duo Andy and Jamie Murray were knocked out by Brazilian pair Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa.
Djokvic claimed bronze at the Beijing 2008 Games and lost the bronze medal match – to Del Potro – four years later in London.
It was a raucous atmosphere in the last match of the night on centre court, with Argentine fans chanting for Del Potro and Brazilians trying to drown out their rivals with cheers for Djokovic.
At 2-2 in the first-set tiebreaker, Del Potro won three straight points to take control. A big forehand that Djokovic could not get back gave him three set points, and he converted the second when Djokovic’s forehand sailed wide.
In the second-set tiebreaker, the Argentine crushed two straight forehand winners on Djokovic’s serve to take a 3-0 lead. It would be 5-0 before Djokovic scored a point.
Del Potro hit 41 winners on Sunday, 29 on his forehand. Djokovic, a 12-time major champion, had more unforced errors than winners: 32-26.