World No.1 Novak Djokovic remains on course for a sixth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown after booking his place in the semi-finals with a disciplined display against fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz in Thursday night's quarterfinals.
After marking a record 378 cumulative weeks as World No.1 at the start of the week here, the all-action Serbian turned on the style for a packed Centre Court crowd at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium to seal a 6-3 7-5 victory.
Looking to avoid a second successive quarterfinal exit in Dubai, the Australian Open champion, dressed all in green, clicked through the gears against Hurkacz.
Making the most of his renowned speed around the court, Djokovic chased the Hurkacz serve, breaking in game four for an early 3-1 lead. Despite the best efforts of Hurkacz, 22-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic took the first set 6-3.
Hurkacz, a six-time winner on the ATP Tour, came out fighting in set two, producing some fine service games. Yet, there’s a reason why Djokovic has been No.1 for so many weeks of his career and he produced a crunching backhand down the line to secure a decisive break of serve in game 11 and won four straight points on his serve to seal the victory.
“Thank you to everyone for coming out and supporting the two of us tonight. It was a tough game against Hubert, one of the nicest guys on the tour,” said Djokovic, who last won the Dubai title in 2020.
“He has one of the best serves in the game and until the 11th game in that second set I didn’t really have too many chances. Fortunately for me, I found some rhythm with my own serve and I’m really glad with the way I played under pressure.”
Djokovic now gears up for a 10th Dubai semi-final appearance under the lights at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Friday night, where he will face former World No.1 Daniil Medvedev, the No.3 seed this week.
Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion and 2020 ATP Finals winner, is seeking to make it back-to-back titles following victory in Doha last week. He produced a strong display to see off No.8 seed Borna Coric 6-3 6-2.
A winner of 17 ATP Tour titles, Medvedev started sharply, breaking serve in game three to give himself the foundation to take the first set comfortably. Coric came battling back in set two, breaking serve in the opening game, before Medvedev claimed his own break in game four to level things up and raced through his next service game for a 3-2 lead.
He secured back-to-back breaks and held serve to go 5-2 ahead and broke for the third time in the set to wrap up the win and ensure a 14th clash with Djokovic, a head-to-head in which Djokovic holds a 9-4 advantage including victory in the semi-finals in Adelaide, in January.
“I managed to play good, hit some lines and I’m happy with the way I played in the end,” said Medvedev after his quarterfinal win. “I’m playing good, but Novak is playing very good, it’s going to be a huge game so I’m hoping for my best tomorrow,” added the World No.7 looking ahead to his semi-final.