Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are finally set to face each other for the first time this year after ten months and four Majors. The duo on Saturday will be fighting for a spot in the Astana Open final.
Djokovic defeated Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-3 while Medvedev beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1 in their respective quarterfinals on Friday.
“I am really happy to play against Novak,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview, adding, “I thought about it before the match and we have only played one tournament together this year, which was Roland Garros. This is the second one and we meet again and I am really happy.”
Djokovic and Medvedev finished 2021 as World No. 1 and 2 respectively according to the ATP rankings. The two played against each other in two Slam finals. In the Australian Open summit clash, Djokovic thrashed the Russian 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 for his ninth title in Melbourne. However, later in the year, Medvedev spoiled Djokovic’s plan of becoming the first man in 52 years to complete a Calendar Slam, with an emphatic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over the Serb in the US Open final.
In what turned out to be the pair’s last meeting, Djokovic came from a set down to beat Medvedev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Paris Masters final a month later.
Since then, the two players have featured in the same singles events only twice - the 2021 ATP Finals and this year’s French Open.
Djokovic, unvaccinated against COVID-19, was not allowed to compete at the Australian Open where Medvedev lost to Rafael Nadal in a marathon final. Djokovic could not enter the US, either for the Indian Wells and Miami Masters events as the country requires foreigners entering its territory to be inoculated against the virus.
With the Serb not being able to defend his ranking points from 2021 Australian Open, in February, Medvedev became the first player outside the ‘Big Four’ to move top in the world rankings after 18 years, three weeks and six days. Andy Roddick had been the last such player to reach the top on February 1, 2004.
Djokovic finally got some much-needed game time during the clay court season but then, the Russian sat out for the most part due to a hernia operation. During Roland Garros, they were the top two seeds and as it turned out, neither reached the final. At the third Major of the year, while Djokovic successfully defended his Wimbledon title, Medvedev could not enter the competition due to organisers banning Russian and Belarusian players after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. In response to the ban, the ATP and WTA decided not to award any ranking points.
Currently ranked world number four and seven, Medvedev and Djokovic will at last renew the 2021 rivalry when the two step on the court at the National Tennis Center in the Kazakh capital.
|DANIIL MEDVEDEV||NOVAK DJOKOVIC|
|TITLES IN 2021||1||3|
|HEAD-TO-HEAD||4 WINS||6 WINS|
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