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Monday, June 27, 2022

Djokovic to be overtaken as world No 1 by Daniil Medvedev after Dubai loss | Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic’s run of two consecutive years as the undisputed tennis No 1 came to an end on Thursday night as he suffered a shock defeat to Jiri Vesely, the Czech world No 123, losing 6-4, 7-6 (4) in their Dubai quarter-final. With his defeat, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev will overtake Djokovic to become the new world No 1 on Monday.

After 18 years of unprecedented dominance from the men’s “big four”, Medvedev’s rise carries particular significance as he is the first player other than Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to reach the number one since Andy Roddick in 2004.

Djokovic alone accounted for an all-time record 361 weeks at the top ranking but his deportation from Australia, and the 2000 points it cost him as defending champion in Melbourne left the door open for Medvedev this week.

Having won the US Open and reached the Australian Open final, Medvedev is an extremely worthy No 1. He rose up the rankings with far less hype than his peers and he broke through at a later age than many of them, yet he has overtaken them all to reach the pinnacle of the sport first.

Throughout the week, Djokovic has been gracious when asked about the possibility of relinquishing his top ranking, but this is a tough result in his first tournament since his deportation from Australia. He had not lost to a player outside of the top 100 since 2018 when he was returning from elbow surgery.

Djokovic leaves Dubai with a grim immediate future due to his decision not to take any Covid vaccine. Earlier in the week, he conceded that “as of today” he cannot enter the United States in order to compete in Indian Wells and Miami next month. His next appearance rests entirely on the Covid entry laws of the countries the tour heads through.

“I need the match play. I didn’t have many matches at all last few months. Yeah, I mean, let’s see. Obviously, as I said, I’ll have to follow the situation, see how it goes. Wherever I get an opportunity to play, I will. Hopefully that will be soon,” said Djokovic, smiling.

Russia's Andrey Rublev returns the ball to Korea's Kwon Soon-woo during a match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Wednesday  23 February 2022.
Andrey Rublev spoke out for peace after reaching the semi-finals in Dubai. Photograph: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Meanwhile, Andrey Rublev, the world No 7 and the second-ranked Russian behind Medvedev, spoke out for peace shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

“In these moments you realise that my match is not important,” said Rublev after reaching the semi-final in Dubai. “It’s not about my match, how it affects me. What’s happening is much more terrible. You realise how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united. It’s about that, we should be take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.”

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Rublev, who also reposted Instagram posts calling for peace on Thursday, said that he has recently received abusive messages due to his nationality but he chooses not to respond to them in order to set a peaceful example. Last week, Rublev won a doubles title in Marseille alongside Denys Molchanov, a Ukrainian player.

“If I want to have peace, I need to be like, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ Even if they throw rocks to me, I need to show [that] I’m for peace, I’m not here to be aggressive or something, even if I’m not responsible for [anything].”

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