Tokyo 2020 Summer Games stadium announcer Andy Taylor recaps Alexander Zverev’s improbable Semifinal victory over World #1 Novak Djokovic. In Japan, the live narration includes two voices: Japanese announcer DJ Ketchup and English announcer Andy Taylor. Together, they cover the presentation on Center Court, while additional Japanese and English speaking announcers cover Courts 1 and 2 at Ariake Tennis Park.
Alexander Zverev guaranteed a medal in his Olympic debut
There’s a lot to digest here. First and foremost, all credit to Alexander Zverev. He went from “not showing up” in the Olympic Semifinals, to complete and total domination of the World #1. It was shocking. Implausible.
Before set-2’s second changeover, Novak Djokovic broke to go up a set and a break. Exasperated, Zverev shattered his racquet — finally showing some emotion in what appeared to be an inevitable blowout. The German received a code violation warning for the outburst. But it was worth it.
Zverev immediately broke back — and some way, somehow — strung together EIGHT consecutive games, only allowing Djokovic a single hold the rest of the way. Did I mention it was shocking?
Not only did Alexander Zverev deliver what will become one of the defining comeback victories of his career, he ensured himself a medal. On Sunday, he’ll face Karen Khachanov for Olympic Gold. Karen Khachanov defeated Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the Final.
Once again, Djokovic competes for Olympic Bronze
Meanwhile, for the third time, Novak Djokovic will compete for Olympic Bronze. Tomorrow, he’s up first on Center Court versus Pablo Carreno Busta. It will be their second meeting since Novak was defaulted from their Round of 16 clash at last year’s fan-less US Open. A month later, Novak defeated Pablo in the Quarterfinals of the pandemic-moved, autumn edition of Roland Garros.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, Djokovic fell in 3-sets to Rafael Nadal during the Semifinals, then took-out American James Blake to capture Bronze. Four years later in London, Novak fell to Andy Murray in the Semifinals, then lost in two sets to Juan Martin Del Potro. In Rio, Del Potro eliminated Djokovic in the 1st-Round.
Should Djokovic win tomorrow, not only will he capture his second Bronze medal – he’ll set a new Olympic tennis record. Currently, he and Roger Federer share the record for the most Olympic Singles match victories (13). A triumph tomorrow will be Novak’s 14th.
The Calendar “Golden” Slam is off the table. The Calendar Grand Slam still in play.
Initially after winning his 20th Major at Wimbledon earlier this month, Djokovic was non-committal toward Tokyo 2020. Most likely the greatest male talent of the Open Era (with an endless list of Tour records to back it up), there’s one elusive accomplishment the World #1 has yet to achieve: The Calendar Grand Slam (winning all four Majors in the same year).
While Novak did hold all four Major titles at the same time after capturing his first Roland Garros title in 2016 – the Calendar Grand Slam is far more rare and illustrious. Only 6 players have achieved the feat:
- 1938: Don Budge
- 1953: Maureen Connolly
- 1962: Rod Laver
- 1969: Rod Laver (first Calendar Grand Slam of the Open Era)
- 1970: Margaret Court
- 1988: Steffi Graf (Calendar Golden Slam, she also won Gold in Seoul)
Therefore, after capturing his third Major of 2021 at Wimbledon, most tennis fans assumed Novak would forego Tokyo 2020 to focus on the Calendar Grand Slam; especially considering the pandemic-related circumstances surrounding the Games in Japan. However, the allure of representing his nation and potentially becoming the first since Steffi Graf to earn the Calendar “Golden” Slam proved too magnetic. He jumped-in feet first, and even signed-on to play Mixed Doubles with Nina Stojanovic.
Between Singles and Mixed Doubles, the sport’s top talent has now played 7 matches in Tokyo’s unbearable heat. In fact, he’s played five of those matches in just the past three days. Tomorrow, not only will he contest Singles Bronze – he and Nina Stojanovic will then take the court in the Mixed Doubles Semifinals.
That is a ton of tennis in crippling heat, even for a super-human like Djokovic.
Ninth meeting. Zverev’s first win since the championship match of the 2018 ATP Finals.
 Alexander Zverev -05- (GER) | Semifinal Announcer Introduction
He is a Grand Slam Finalist, a year-end ATP Finals champion, owns 15 ATP Singles titles in all, and has been ranked inside the top-10 for four consecutive years. Competing in his first Olympic Games, he has advanced to the Medal Rounds here in Tokyo without dropping a set. Representing Germany, the World #5 Alexander Zverev.
- SF — W —  Novak Djokovic -01- (SRB) | Score: 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
- QF — W — Jeremy Chardy -68- (FRA) | Score: 6-4, 6-1 | COURT-1
- R3 — W — Nikoloz Basilashvili -41- (GEO) | Score: 6-4, 7-6(5) | COURT-1
- R2 — W — Daniel Elahi Galan -113- (COL) | Score: 6-2, 6-2 | RECAP
- R1 — W — Yen-Hsun Lu -573- (TPE) | Score: 6-1, 6-3 | COURT-1
 Novak Djokovic -01- (SRB) | Semifinal Announcer Introduction
He is a 20-time Grand Slam champion, is one of only 3 men to earn the Career Grand Slam TWICE, and has held the World #1 ranking longer than any other man in tennis history. He’s also shattering records this week in Tokyo. With his victory yesterday over Kei Nishikori, he became the first player in Olympic Tennis history to reach the Medal Rounds for a third time. Representing Serbia, the reigning Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon Champion – World #1 Novak Djokovic.
- SF — L —  Alexander Zverev -05- (GER) | Score: 6-1, 3-6, 1-6
- QF — W — Kei Nishikori -69- (JPN) | Score: 6-2, 6-0 | RECAP
- R3 — W — Alejandro Davidovich Fokina -34- (ESP) | Score: 6-3, 6-1 | RECAP
- R2 — W — Jan-Lennard Struff -48- (GER) | Score: 6-4, 6-3 | RECAP
- R1 — W — Hugo Dellien -139- (BOL) | Score: 6-2, 6-2 | RECAP
SUMMER GAMES | Men’s Singles Medalists
Amid COVID concern, the Games go on
Postponed for a year due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games finally launched on Friday, 23 July 2021. After 18-months of lockdowns, desperately trying to contain COVID’s insidious spread, the world finally developed effective vaccines. Sadly, though, 4-million lost their lives, while over 193-million contracted the virus. And Tokyo’s case count was on the rise.
But thanks to science and nearly 2-years of experience, organizers understood that it was entirely possible to responsibly stage the Summer Games without creating a super-spreader event. No fans allowed. Tickets revoked. All international visitors barred from the country – unless competing or working.
From the athlete, to the volunteer, to the Japanese announcer and English announcer — everyone involved with the Games exercised the procedures and protocols painstakingly learned through 18-months of uncertainty and despair. Quarantines. Life in bubbles. Regular hand-hygiene. Masks. Limited long-term indoor exposure to others. And of course, social distancing. But above all else: Most of the Tokyo 2020 team was vaccinated.
Come hell or high water, the Summer Games would go on.
Naomi Osaka ignites the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron
On a more positive note, one of the most distinguished honors in all of sport is to light the Olympic cauldron. Any American over 40 remembers the emotional moment in 1996 when Muhammed Ali courageously climbed the steps to light the flame in Atlanta. His body ravaged by Parkinson’s disease. That singular moment creates indelible memories.
This year, the Japanese Olympic Committee secretly bestowed the honor to 23-year-old Naomi Osaka. Originally scheduled to play the first match on Center Court Saturday morning, it was unusual on Friday to hear that her match had been moved to Sunday. Nothing further was said.
Then, at the conclusion of a subdued, yet deeply respectful opening ceremony and parade of nations – it was Naomi Osaka who climbed the steps and torched the flame that brightly burned over the Games of the 32nd Olympiad. Obviously, it was a humbling honor not lost on the 4-time Grand Slam Champion, who was making her Olympic debut.
Well represented during the parade of nations, tennis players Petra Kvitova (CZE), Jelena Ostapenko (LAT), and Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) all served as flag-bearers.
Tennis at the Summer Games
One of the premier sports featured during the Games’ initial revival, tennis still has a contentious history with the Summer Games. It fell off the radar after 1924, mainly due to conflicts between the International Lawn Tennis Federation and the IOC. The two major obstacles:
- Allowing professionals to compete in a global showcase for amature athletics.
- Scheduling. With the Summer Games so close to the conclusion of the Wimbledon Championships, the ILTF and the IOC were in direct competition for tournament participation by the sport’s top-athletes.
After a 60 year absence, tennis and the IOC worked out their differences, and the sport returned as an official event during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. Now under the guidance of the International Tennis Federation, professionals proudly represent their home nations.