DUBAI (AFP) – Novak Djokovic lost his Dubai quarterfinal and his world number one ranking in one go on Thursday as he suffered a 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) upset at the hands of Czech world number 123 Jiri Vesely.
Competing in his first tournament of the season, and first since getting deported from Australia, Djokovic needed to at least reach the semifinals in the Emirates to try and stop Daniil Medvedev from replacing him at the top of the rankings.
But Vesely had other ideas as the left-handed qualifier improved his career record against Djokovic to 2-0, a result that will see Medvedev become the first man since 2004 outside the “Big Four” – Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray – to occupy the number one ranking on Monday.
Djokovic, who has spent a record 361 weeks as the world number one, said at the start of the tournament that he “would be the first to congratulate” Medvedev, if the Russian succeeded in his quest for the summit.
US Open champion Medvedev, currently involved in the Acapulco tournament, becomes the third Russian man after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin to ascend to the world number one spot.
Medvedev marked his rise to the world number one ranking with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka in the quarterfinals of the ATP Mexico Open on Thursday.
The 26-year-old Russian rode a rollercoaster of emotions after learning he’d take over the top spot thanks to Serbian star Novak Djokovic’s quarter-final defeat in Dubai hours earlier.