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Djokovic to lose No. 1 ranking after upset loss, Shapovalov into semis in Dubai

Novak Djokovic will fall from No. 1 in the ATP rankings and be replaced by Daniil Medvedev after losing 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships on Thursday.

Djokovic’s latest stay atop the rankings started on Feb. 3, 2020, and his total of 361 weeks there are the most for any man since the tour’s computerized rankings began in 1973.

Also Thursday, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov advanced to the semifinals with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis.

He will face Vesely, the first ATP meeting of their careers.

Shapovalov, the sixth seed in Dubai, fired 14 aces in the match that lasted one hour 31 minutes and did not face a break point. He converted two of his three breakpoint chances versus Berankis.

After a first set in which both players held serve until the tiebreak, Shapovalov took over in the second set. He won 88 per cent of his first serve points and took the set on a break.

Shapovalov, form Richmond Hill, Ont., improved his career record versus Berankis to 3-1.

A few hours after clinching top spot in the ATP rankings, the top-seeded Medvedev eased into the Mexican Open semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka.

The Russian player will face either Rafael Nadal or Tommy Paul in the semis in the hard-court tournament.

Medvedev lost to Nadal in the Australian Open final in an epic five-set match where the Spaniard rallied after losing the first two sets to win a record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

Medvedev is the first man other than Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray to be No. 1 since Feb. 1, 2004.

“It’s great for tennis, I think, to have somebody new at world No. 1 again,” Vesely said in his on-court interview. “Tennis needs, of course, new No. 1s. A new generation is coming up. I think it’s just great.”

It was the 34-year-old Djokovic’s first tournament since being deported from Australia last month for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus, preventing him from being able to defend his Australian Open title.

Medvedev is now playing at the Mexican Open, winning in the second round on Wednesday.

After beating Pablo Andujar, Medvedev said of getting to No. 1: “If I do it it’s going to mean a lot.”

Vesely, who is ranked No. 123, completed a second career victory over Djokovic in just under two hours to end the Serb’s hopes of winning the Dubai title for a sixth time. He beat Djokovic in 2016 in Monte Carlo the only other time they faced each other.

“I never expected to win again,” Vesely said. “He’s such a champion.”

Vesely served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was broken by Djokovic, who was always chasing in the tiebreaker. Vesely clinched the win on his first match point.

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