Daniil Medvedev kicks off Novak Djokovic mind-games ahead of clash

Daniil Medvedev has started the mind-games with world No.1 Novak Djokovic ahead of their clash at the Dubai Open on Friday. The Russian star beat Andy Murray in the Qatar Open and is yet to lose a set in three matches in the United Arab Emirates tournament.

Last year’s Australian Open winner exited January’s tournament at the third round stage in a surprising defeat to 29th seed Sebastian Korda. However, since then Medvedev is on a 12-match winning streak and ran out impressive 6-3, 6-2 winner against Borna Coric in the Dubai Open quarter-final – winning the final 21 point in the process.

Despite hitting form Medvedev insists that Australian Open winner Djokovic is the favourite in their last-four clash. He told the ATP Tour website: “I’m playing good right now. But when you play Novak, Novak is always the favourite.

“To win 21 points in a row, I don’t know if that’s my personal record on the ATP Tour. I managed to hit some lines, I managed to play good. Borna was missing a little bit, but generally happy with my level, I’m happy with the ending of the match for sure.”

World No.1 Djokovic had some time off the tennis circuit after winning his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, while playing with a hamstring injury. The Serbian said he was still feeling the effects of the injury after suffering a scare against qualifier Tomas Machac in Dubai.

After being dragged into a final set tiebreak in his first round match Djokovic has found his form beating Tallon Griekspoor in straight sets which was followed by a win against Hubert Hurkacz. It comes as no surprise that Medvedev is cautious of his semi-final opponent – who has beaten him on their last four meetings.

Djokovic is unbeaten this season after 15 matches which included a win against Medvedev during an Australian Open warm-up event in Adelaide. The Serbian will also hope to increase his ranking points after setting a new record for most weeks at world No.1, surpassing Steffi Graf’s old standing of 377 weeks.

Djokovic missed last year’s Australian and US Open tournaments due to his non-Covid vaccination status. The tennis star could miss both the Indian Wells and Miami Masters events this month if his application for a “special permit” to enter the country is denied, while unvaccinated travellers are still banned from entering the US.

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