Dethroned Djokovic sends message to new tennis number 1 Medvedev
Novak Djokovic has sent a message to the man who inflicted his shock first defeat of the year and new world number one Daniil Medvedev after losing at the Dubai Open in his first tournament since his controversial failure to earn the right to defend his Australian Open title.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was beaten in straight sets in the quarterfinals by world number 123 Jiri Vesely on Thursday, ensuring that Medvedev reached the top of the rankings for the first time even before he had eased past Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the final four of the Mexico Open.
The upset gave Vesely a record of two wins from two matches against Djokovic and the tennis icon was magnanimous in defeat after his eagerly-anticipated comeback was brought to an unexpected end.
"Well played," said Djokovic, who had his visa canceled in Australia because he had not been vaccinated against Covid, a requirement that was not placed upon players by the organizers of the Dubai ATP 500 event.
"That was a great game. Wish you the best of luck for the rest of the tournament.
"Congratulations also to a very deserving [Medvedev], who will now become world number one."
Well played @jiri_vesely, that was a great game. Wish you the best of luck for the rest of the tournament. 👍— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) February 24, 2022
Congratulations also to a very deserving @DaniilMedwed, who will now become world number 1. 👏🙌— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) February 24, 2022
Djokovic was last world number two in January 2020, although he could face a battle to reclaim top spot if he goes through with his suggestion that he could miss major tournaments rather than take Covid shots.
The ranking points system in tennis challenges players to 'defend' points based on their achievements in the previous year. Djokovic had an extraordinary 2021, winning three Grand Slam titles before falling to Medvedev at the final hurdle in New York.
Medvedev has set up a semifinal repeat in Acapulco of his clash with Nadal at the Australian Open, when the Spaniard edged a five-set thriller to take the title.
“Of course, I’m happy to reach number one,” he said. “It was my goal since I was young."
The 26-year-old admitted that he had been affected by the news that Russia had launched an offensive in Ukraine earlier in the day.
1⃣ @DaniilMedwed will be the @atptour number one on Monday Medvedev becomes 1st No. 1 other than @DjokerNole, @rogerfederer, @RafaelNadal and @Andy_Murray since 1 February 2004. pic.twitter.com/ger2iKNtth— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) February 24, 2022
“In these moments, you understand that tennis sometimes is not that important," he reflected, adding that countryman Andrey Rublev's doubles title win with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov at the Marseille Open last week was "amazing because people need to stay together.”
"It was not easy to play and I’m happy that I managed to win the match but it was bit of a roller-coaster day for me.
“Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, was not easy. By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world.
"We play in so many different countries; I’ve been in so many countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m all for peace.”