Daniil Medvedev ends Novak Djokovic’s 20-game winning streak

Associated Press2 minute read

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

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

Medvedev, a former world number one, won trophies in Rotterdam and Doha before coming to Dubai and beating Djokovic and extending 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 22nd Grand Slam singles title. He hadn’t 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 it on his first match point.

“When you play against Novak, you just have to play your best, hoping he doesn’t play his best,” Medvedev said. “I managed to play at a higher level than him today. In the second set, I didn’t face a single break point, but it was so 30-30, two (games ). I managed to stay calm.”

Medvedev hadn’t beaten Djokovic since the 2021 US Open final, when he clinched his first and so far only major title. The victory deprived Djokovic of the first Grand Slam in men’s singles since 1969.

Djokovic went on to win his next four encounters.

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

Earlier, Rublev had advanced beating Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6(9) in the other semi-final. Rublev needed six match points to finally put Zverev away for his first tour-level victory against the German player.

Rublev had lost the previous five matches against his longtime friend, who had reached his first semi-final since Roland Garros in June.

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

“Today when I was going to the court I thought I had nothing to lose. He always beat me, so why do I have to be tight,” Rublev said.

Last year, Rublev beat Jiri Vesely for the title.

Rublev has beaten Medvedev the last two times they have faced each other, including in the ATP Finals in November. This match is best known for Rublev’s call for peace. He wrote “Peace, peace, peace, all we need” on the lens of a television camera. He made a similar call shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago.

On Friday, Rublev renewed that message.

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

Rublev paid tribute to late Soviet rock star Viktor Tsoi, writing “Tsoi is alive” on the lens of the television camera in the field. Tsoi’s words “gave people a lot of hope” in the 1980s, Rublev said.

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