World no. 123 Jiri Vesely stunned world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-6 in an hour and 57 minutes in the Dubai quarter-final. A five-time champion experienced his worst loss in the desert and stepped down from the ATP throne after over two years, sending Daniil Medvedev to the top.
Novak played well in the opening two matches after kicking off the season in Dubai. However, he failed to go all the way and fight for the title, experiencing his second defeat against the Czech in as many encounters! Both players had around 30 winners and 15 unforced errors.
Vesely claimed three points more than Djokovic to seal the deal in straight sets and advance into his first ATP semi-final since Pune 2020. Jiri played better behind the second serve. The Czech fended off three out of five break chances and kept the pressure on world no.
1. Novak suffered three breaks from eight opportunities offered to his rival.
Novak Djokovic left the ATP throne after two years in February.
He failed to deliver his best tennis when needed and finished his journey in the quarter-final.
Vesely had the edge in the mid-range and most extended rallies and followed Djokovic's baseline pace. As we already said, Jiri stayed composed in the crucial moments to avoid a decider and celebrate a notable victory. The Serb sprayed a backhand error in the encounter's opening game to suffer an early break.
The Czech cemented the advantage with a booming serve in game two and settled into a fine rhythm. Novak got his name on the scoreboard with a forehand drive-volley winner in the third game and broke back a few minutes later when Jiri sprayed a backhand error.
Djokovic wasted a game point at 3-3, and Vesely earned a break chance with a forehand crosscourt winner. The Czech seized the second break point after the Serb's double fault and moved 5-3 up with an unreturned serve a few minutes later.
Jiri blasted another powerful serve at 5-4 to wrap up the set after 47 minutes. Both players served well in the second set's opening six games to stay neck and neck. Vesely grabbed a break at 3-3 with a cracking backhand down the line winner that sent him in front and closer to the finish line.
Novak placed a backhand wide in game eight, wasting a break chance and finding himself on the verge of defeat. Staying focused, world no. 1 pulled the break back at 4-5 when his rival sent a backhand wide, leveling the score at 5-5 and gathering a boost.
Djokovic saved a break point with a service winner in game 11, and the set went into a tie break. Vesely forged a 3-0 advantage with a volley winner and moved 5-3 in front following Djokovic's costly double fault. Serving at 5-4, Jiri grabbed two points behind the initial shot and moved over the top with a forehand winner that delivered his most notable victory in years.
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