Djokovic to be replaced at No. 1 by Medvedev after Dubai loss

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Novak Djokovic will fall from No. 1 in the ATP rankings and be replaced by Daniil Medvedev after losing 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships.

Djokovic’s latest stay atop the rankings began on Feb. 3, 2020, and his total of 361 weeks there are the most for any man since the tour’s computerized rankings began in 1973.

On Monday, Medvedev will move up from No. 2 for the first time and become the 27th man to reach No. 1. He won the U.S. Open last September and was the Australian Open runner-up each of the past two years.

Djokovic congratulated Medvedev on Twitter, saying the Russian was “very deserving” of the No. 1 spot.

Medvedev is the first man other than Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray to be No. 1 since Feb. 1, 2004.

“It’s great for tennis, I think, to have somebody new at world No. 1 again,” Vesely said in his on-court interview. “Tennis needs, of course, new No. 1s. A new generation is coming up. I think it’s just great.”

It was the 34-year-old Djokovic’s first tournament since being deported from Australia last month for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus, preventing him from being able to defend his Australian Open title.

Medvedev is currently playing at the Mexican Open, winning in the second round on Wednesday.

After beating Pablo Andujar, Medvedev said of getting to No. 1: “If I do it it’s going to mean a lot.”

Vesely, who is ranked No. 123, completed a second career victory over Djokovic in just under two hours to end the Serb’s hopes of winning the Dubai title for a sixth time. He beat Djokovic in 2016 in Monte Carlo the only other time they faced each other.

“I never expected to win again,” Vesely said. “He’s such a champion.”

Vesely served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was broken by Djokovic, who was always chasing in the tiebreaker.

Vesely clinched the win on his first match point.

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — American qualifier Alycia Parks is having quite the breakthrough tournament in Ostrava.

The 21-year-old Parks earned her first win against a top-10 ranked opponent by beating fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 at the Agel Open on Thursday to reach her first WTA Tour quarterfinal.

The 144th-ranked Parks ousted former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the opening round – her first win against a top-20 opponent – and showed off her power by hitting 59 winners against Sakkari, compared to just nine for her opponent.

“I came out here not expecting anything, just playing my game, and it got me through the match,” Parks said.

Parks will next face former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who advanced via walkover when Belinda Bencic withdrew with a left foot injury.

Caty McNally, another American qualifier who is playing doubles with Parks in Ostrava, also reached the last eight by beating wild-card entry Karolina Muchova 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. McNally is also into her first WTA quarterfinal and will face top-ranked Iga Swiatek, who advanced Wednesday.

Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Add Botic van de Zandschulp to the long list of players to have been schooled by Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic eased past Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday in his first career meeting with the 27-year-old Dutchman to reach the quarterfinals of the Astana Open.

Van de Zandschulp earned one break point in each set but couldn’t seriously threaten Djokovic, who is looking for a second straight indoor hardcourt title after winning in Tel Aviv last week.

“(In the) second set I think I started to read his serve better and just started swinging through the court more,” Djokovic said. “Botic is a quality tennis player. When he has time, he can hurt you, so I tried to take away that time from him and I’m very pleased with the way I played, particularly in the second.”

Djokovic will next face Karen Khachanov, who rallied to beat Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. If the 21-time Grand Slam champion gets past that one, he could come up against fellow former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev. The second-seeded Russian beat Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to move one match away from a potential rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final, when Medvedev beat Djokovic to deny his attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Medvedev will first have to beat Roberto Bautista Agut, who advanced Wednesday.