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Medvedev hands Djokovic first loss of season in Dubai semifinals

On the heels of back-to-back titles in Rotterdam and Doha, there was already no doubt that Daniil Medvedev was back in a big way.

Friday’s performance against Novak Djokovic only confirmed it to an even greater extent.

Medvedev, who briefly fell out of the top 10 following a 2022 slump and an early loss at this year’s Australian Open, upset Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The 27-year-old broke serve three times and fired eight aces while double-faulting only once on his way to victory in one hour and 35 minutes.

“When you play against Novak you just have to play your best (and) kind of hope that he doesn’t play his best on this day,” Medvedev explained. “Because even if you play your best, it’s going to be tough and not sure you’ll win. That’s what happened a little bit. I’m happy that I managed to play at a higher level than him today. I’m really happy to be in the final tomorrow.

“I was feeling great before this match; I am feeling a little bit worse right now. Every time we play, physically it’s tough. We always have long rallies; we always have tough battles. I’m looking forward to the next ones.”

Medvedev is back up to seventh in the rankings thanks to his pair of triumphs the past two weeks and he will surpass Andrey Rublev at No. 6 in the world if he wins their head-to-head showdown for the Dubai title on Sunday. The 2021 U.S. Open champion is on a 13-match winning streak since falling to Sebastian Korda in round three of the Aussie Open.

Djokovic had been 15-0 this season and 40-1 in his last 41 tournament matches prior to Friday’s loss.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.