Daniil Medvedev ends Novak Djokovic’s 20 match winning streak

Associated Press2 minute reading

Daniil Medvedev ended Novak Djokovic’s 20-match winning streak by beating the world’s top-ranked player 6-4, 6-4 on Friday to reach the final of the Dubai Championships.

Third-seeded Medvedev will face defending champion Andrey Rublev in an all-Russian final that could have political overtones after Rublev repeated his call for peace.

Medvedev, a former world No. 1, picked up trophies in Rotterdam and Doha before coming to Dubai and beating Djokovic to extend his own winning streak to 13 matches, the second-longest of his career.

Djokovic was competing in his first event since winning the Australian Open for his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam singles title. He had not lost since November when he dropped the Paris Masters final to Holger Rune.

On Friday, Medvedev broke Djokovic twice in the first set and again to open the second, eventually closing out on his first match point.

“When you play Novak, you just have to play your best, kind of hope he doesn’t play his best,” Medvedev said. “I was able to play at a higher level than him today. In the second set, I didn’t face one break point, but there were so many 30-30, deuces (games). I was able to stay composed.”

Medvedev had not beaten Djokovic since the 2021 US Open final, when he claimed his first and so far only major title. That win denied Djokovic the first men’s singles Grand Slam since 1969.

Djokovic then won their next four meetings.

But Medvedev improved to 5-3 against Djokovic when the Serbian player is ranked first.

Earlier, Rublev advanced by beating Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (9) in the other semi-final. Rublev needed six match points to finally see off Zverev for his first tour-level win over the German.

Rublev had lost all five of his previous matches against his long-time friend, who reached his first semi-final since the French Open in June.

Sixth-ranked Rublev saved a set point in the second-set tiebreaker.

“Today, when I was going on the court, I thought that I have nothing to lose. He always beat me, so that’s why I need to be close,” said Rublev.

Last year Rublev beat Jiri Vesely for the title.

Rublev has beaten Medvedev the last two times they have met, including in the ATP finals in November. That match is better remembered for Rublev’s appeal for peace. He wrote “Peace, peace, peace, all we need,” on a television camera lens. He made a similar appeal shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine just over a year ago.

On Friday, Rublev renewed that message.

“It’s crazy that so many just normal citizens are suffering and dying,” he told reporters. “The only thing I hope is that soon there will be peace in all countries. It doesn’t matter where.”

Paying tribute to the late Soviet rock star Viktor Tsoi, Rublev wrote “Tsoi is alive” on the TV camera lens at the courtyard. Tsoi’s lyrics “gave a lot of hope to the people” in the 1980s, Rublev said.

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