Heading to Monte Carlo with just two ATP wins on clay, world no. 14 Daniil Medvedev has delivered his best tennis on the slowest surface so far in the Principality, toppling world no. 1 and a former champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 for the place in the semis.
The match lasted two hours and 20 minutes and Daniil had the upper hand in the first and third sets, overpowering Novak when it mattered the most to achieve the best result at Masters 1000 series and become the clear leader on the Tour with 21 wins in 2019.
Just like at Indian Wells and Miami, Novak Djokovic has failed to make an impression at home in Monte Carlo as well (the same happened in 2018), missing a chance to add more points to his tally and create an even more significant gap over Rafael Nadal who has to defend 1000 points here in the Principality.
Medvedev was the player who took out the most from Djokovic during the Serb's thrilling Australian Open run and he did enough today to cross the finish line first and secure the first win over Novak in four encounters.
The Russian tamed his shots beautifully, staying aggressive without too many mistakes to hit 25 winners and just 21 errors, leaving Novak on almost 50 unforced errors, the most from his forehand wing that let him down today in challenging exchanges with the rock-solid rival.
Toppling Novak in the shortest and mid-range rallies, Daniil endured all the obstacles in sets one and two, shifting into a higher gear in the decider to advance into the last four. Serving at only 49%, Medvedev did his best to defend both the first and second serve, facing just four break points in the entire encounter and losing serve twice, one of those when was already near the finish line.
Trying to mix shots and find the way to impose his pattern in the rallies, Djokovic was far from his usual level, facing ten break points and suffering five breaks that pushed Daniil over the finish line, unable to match the rival's pace in the decider and losing before the semi-final in the third straight Masters 1000 event.
The youngster made the best possible start, dropping seven points behind the initial shot in the opener to keep Novak away from break points, waiting for a chance on the return patiently and gaining the lead in the very first game of the match after a forehand winner.
Novak saved three break points in game five to avoid more serious deficit before Medvedev completed a perfect set with another break in game nine for a 6-3 after 40 minutes. Novak bounced back in the third game of the second set with a lob winner and kept the points on his racquet with constant drop shots and direction changes, holding at love with an ace in game ten for a 6-4 and more favorable result before the start of the decider.
There, Daniil broke in the fourth game when Djokovic landed a forehand long, confirming the break with a hold at love and moving 5-1 in front with another break of serve that sealed Novak's fate in this match. The Serb managed to pill one break back but Daniil delivered the third straight break at 5-2 with a backhand crosscourt winner for one of the career-best wins and staying on the title course.