Novak Djokovic is set to be overtaken in the ATP rankings, with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev to become the new men’s world number one.
Medvedev will be the first men’s number one since Andy Roddick in 2004 to occupy the top spot outside of the ‘big four’ of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
Medvedev’s rise to number one comes after Djokovic’s 6-4, 7-6(4) surprise loss to world number 123 Jiri Vesely in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Djokovic, playing in his first tournament of the 2022 calendar year following his controversial deportation from Australia, strung together two consecutive wins in Dubai.
US Open champion Medvedev is currently in action at the Mexican Open and will take on Rafael Nadal in the semi-final.
Serbian superstar Djokovic spent a record 361 weeks at the top of the men’s tennis rankings and won eight tour-level titles, including three grand slams, since regaining his top-ranked status in February 2020.
Following the loss to Vesely, Djokovic admitted he expected more from himself and said his opponent played a ‘big game’.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t my day,” Djokovic said.
“I congratulate Jiri. He played better. He just went for his shots. His serve was big. His whole game was big. I expected myself to play on a higher level, for sure. I mean, I can do better. But credit to Jiri.”
Djokovic acknowledged he was still looking for form and getting up to speed following his extended break from tennis.
“The more matches I play, the more confident I will be, the more comfortable I’ll be feeling on the court,” the 34-year-old said.
Djokovic congratulated Medvedev on Twitter and said the Russian is ‘very deserving’ of the number one spot.
“He deserves to be number one,” Djokovic said.
“Eventually it’s going to happen. If it happens this week, I’ll be the first one to congratulate him.”
Czech Vesely is the lowest-ranked player to beat Djokovic for almost four years.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I never really thought I would have a chance against Novak. He is one of the greatest of all time.”
The 28-year-old said it was ‘great for tennis’ to have a new world number one.
“It is great for tennis to have someone new at world number one. Novak is such a champion’ he has been number one for 361 weeks, but tennis needs new world number ones and there is a new generation coming up.”
After Djokovic previously said in an interview with the BBC that he would be willing to skip the French Open and Wimbledon over his decision not to be vaccinated against COVID-19, it seems unlikely he will be able to regain the number one spot anytime in the near future.