Daniil Medvedev moved to within one win of capturing his third consecutive tour-level title Friday when he ended Novak Djokovic’s perfect start to the season at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
In the 14th chapter of their rivalry, Medvedev was locked in from ball one, triumphing 6-4, 6-4 to extend his winning streak to 13 matches. The third seed stood deep behind the baseline to soak up Djokovic’s ball-striking. Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors compared to 38 from Djokovic and he was rapid around the court, chasing down a number of drop shots to advance after one hour and 35 minutes.
“When you play against Novak you just have to play your best,” Medvedev said. “Kind of hope he doesn’t play his best on the day because when he plays his best, well he has 22 Grand Slams, so even if you play your best, it is going to be tough, not sure you win.
“I managed to play a higher level than him today. In the second set I didn’t face one break point, but there were so many 30/30 games. But I managed to stay composed and I am happy to be in the final tomorrow.”
The 27-year-old lifted tour-level titles in Rotterdam and Doha in February. He will aim to clinch his 18th tour-level crown and 17th on hard courts when he faces Andrey Rublev in the championship match on Saturday.
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Medvedev ended Djokovic’s bid to become the first man to complete the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969 when he defeated the Serbian in the 2021 US Open final. But, the top seed entered the clash at the ATP 500 in Dubai off the back of four consecutive wins against Medvedev.
However, he was unable to make it five and improve on his 15-0 start to the season, with the World No. 7 Medvedev limiting errors and winning the longer exchanges to improve to 5-9 in their ATP Head2Head series.
Djokovic struggled to find consistent rhythm against Medvedev. He served-and-volleyed in the first set to pressurise Medvedev’s deep court return position, but struggled to successfully execute the play. He then threw everything at Medvedev on return in the second set, striking with aggression and depth. However, he was unable to hit through the third seed, who acted like a brick wall.
Medvedev, who is making his third appearance in Dubai, has yet to drop a set this week, also defeating Matteo Arnaldi, Alexander Bublik and Borna Coric.
Djokovic was chasing his sixth title in Dubai, having lifted the trophy in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2020.