Dubai Duty Free Tennis: Djokovic, Medvedev storm into quarterfinals

The world No1 is now unbeaten in 14 matches this year

Novak Djokovic hits a backhand return during his match in Dubai on Wednesday. M. Sajjad/Khaleej Times
Novak Djokovic hits a backhand return during his match in Dubai on Wednesday. M. Sajjad/Khaleej Times

By Joy Chakravarty

Published: Wed 1 Mar 2023, 10:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Mar 2023, 10:48 PM

After struggling in his opening round, the ruthless and dominant Novak Djokovic we all know was back on the Centre Court. The world No1 moved to his 13th quarterfinal in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a comfortable win on Wednesday night.

The world No1 is now unbeaten in 14 matches this year, a streak that has earned him two titles including the Australian Open. The 6-2, 6-3 win over Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor earns him a quarter-final match against the winner of the match between fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland and qualifier Pavel Kotov.

In other matches, third seed Daniil Medvedev showed no mercy against his good friend Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, winning 6-4, 6-2 to advance to quarterfinals. Medvedev is aiming to win a third straight title in three weeks after his triumphs in Rotterdam and Doha.

Defending champion and second seed Andrey Rublev stayed alive after a close match against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, where he saved five match points in the second set.

However, fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, bowed out of the tournament after Italian Lorenzo Sonego won 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Netherlands' Botic van de Zandschulp got the better of Mikael Ymer 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, and seventh seed German, Alexander Zverev, had a rather easy outing against Australian Christopher O’Connell, winning 7-5, 6-4 in 78 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the first match of the evening session on the Centre Court, it was a much better performance from Djokovic.

Speaking at the courtside after the match, the five-time Dubai Duty Free champion said: “It’s been a great evening for me tonight. Yesterday, I really had to work hard to get a win. Tonight, right from the beginning, I was trying, and I definitely played better quality tennis than I had last night.

“Maybe the last three, four games weren’t the best, but I managed to find a good serve in the end. I’m very pleased with the performance and with the way I felt on the court. Hopefully, it’s been going in the right direction for tomorrow.

“This was much closer to the best level today compared to yesterday. I probably didn’t expect to play that well in either, considering last night’s match. But here we go. Every day is a new day, a new opportunity.”

The 39th ranked Griekspoor was down 0-2 within six minutes of the first set, when a slight drizzle interrupted play for eight minutes. But if the Dutchman thought the rain would cool down the Serbian superstar, that did not happen.

Griekspoor did manage to break Djokovic once, but that was too late when he was down 1-5 in the second set. Otherwise, his only piece of resistance came when 0-3 down in the second, as he stretched the fourth game on his serve to 16 minutes, saved five break points, before finally losing.

Sonego, who recently let three match points slip against Andy Murray and lost in Doha, put together a brilliant, aggressive performance to upset the fourth seed Auger-Aliassime.

Sonego fired 24 winners and won 89 per cent (39/44) of points behind his first serve for his first win against the world No9 Canadian.

“It was really tough today, but I played really well,” said the No67 Sonego, who takes on Zverev for a spot in the semifinals.

“I was really aggressive with my serve. I improved my game this year and I have had some good experience on Tour. I’m really happy to beat Felix.”



[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 1-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3)

Botic van de Zandschulp (NED) beat Mikael Ymer (SWE) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) beat [4] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 (4), 6-4

[7] Alexander Zverev (GER) beat Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 7-5, 6-4

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) beat Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-2, 6-3

[8] Borna Coric (CRO) beat Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-5

[3] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) beat Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4, 6-2


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