Novak Djokovic suffers first defeat of 2023 as Daniil Medvedev wins Dubai semi

Daniil Medvedev celebrates victory over Novak Djokovic (Kamran Jebreili/AP) (AP)
Daniil Medvedev celebrates victory over Novak Djokovic (Kamran Jebreili/AP) (AP)

Daniil Medvedev handed Novak Djokovic his first defeat of the season in the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Djokovic went into the clash on a 20-match winning streak taking in the ATP Finals at the end of last season then titles in Adelaide and at the Australian Open in January.

But this time it was another man in form, third seed Medvedev, who proved too strong, pulling off a 6-4 6-4 victory as he chases a third successive title.

Djokovic lost four games in a row from 2-1 up in the opening set, making too many errors as he tried to finish rallies early.

The world number one put pressure on Medvedev but the former US Open champion withstood it, and one break of serve at the start of the decider was ultimately just enough.

It was the Russian, who will take on countryman Andrey Rublev in the final, who largely came out on top in a series of entertaining exchanges, and he said in an on-court interview broadcast by Prime Video: “When you play against Novak you just have to play your best, kind of hope that he doesn’t play his best.

“I’m happy that 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, deuce (games). I managed to keep composed and I’m really happy to be in the final tomorrow.”

Defending champion Rublev survived a dramatic second-set tie-break to defeat Alexander Zverev 6-3 7-6 (9) in the first semi-final.

It was at the same stage a year ago that Rublev earned praise for writing ‘No war please’ on the camera lens in reference to events in Ukraine.

Asked again about the situation, the 25-year-old said: “You cannot act like nothing is happening because it’s horrible. It’s crazy that so many just normal citizens are suffering, dying. It’s just not easy.

“The only thing I hope that soon there is going to be peace in every country. It doesn’t matter where. I hope there is going to be peace in our countries. I hope there is going to be peace in other countries where there is happening the wars now.

“It’s horrible in our time, this generation, there can happen those things.”

Britain’s Lloyd Glasspool reached the doubles final with Finnish partner Harri Heliovaara, the pair defeating top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-4 6-2.