Daniil Medvedev
Third seed Daniil Medvedev celebrates after defeating top seed Novak Djokovic in the semifinal of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on Friday. Medvedev will meet defending champion Andrey Rublev in the final on Saturday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Daniil Medvedev brought his best game to the semifinal. He needed it to snap the unbeaten run of top seed Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, and enter the final of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on Friday.

He will meet second seed Andrey Rublev in the final on Saturday. Earlier, the defending champion had despatched seventh seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 7-6.

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Medvedev came to Dubai on the back of two titles wins (Rotterdam and Doha), and he’s in pole position to add a third after having strung together an 13-match unbeaten streak. This was Djokovic’s first defeat of the year, having won the Australian Open last month.

Third-seeded Medvedev said: “When you play against Novak, you just have to play your best. [I] 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 [will] win.

The 25-year-old Russian had the better of the exchanges in the first set, breaking the 22-time Grand Slam winner twice. Djokovic broke back, but Medvedev didn’t allow the advantage to slip.

The second set was tighter, but Medvedev stayed in the rallies. Errors crept into Djokovic’s game, and the Serbian’s attempts to attack the net didn’t always succeed. In what was the point of the match, Djokovic twice failed to put away volleys after he had wrongfooted the Russian at the end of a prolonged rally. The Serbian was unable to break his rival's serve as Medvedev went on to serve for the match, and finished with a crosscourt winner to remain on track for a third title in a row.

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The Russian World No. 7 was pleased with his performance. “I managed to play a higher level than him [Djokovic] 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,” Medvedev said.