In-form Medvedev packs off Djokovic

IN CONTROL: Russia’s Daniil Medvedev hits a return to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during their quarterfinal at the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday. AFP

World number one Novak Djokovic was dumped out by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Friday, losing 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

Djokovic, twice a former champion in Monte Carlo, lost his serve five times as 10th seed Medvedev gained revenge for his last-16 defeat by the Serb at this year’s Australian Open.

“This was the best match of my career, maybe not in the level of tennis but in beating the number one for the first time in my life,” said Medvedev. “It’s just amazing.”

For Djokovic, who won a record seventh Melbourne title in January, it marked another premature exit for the top seed after he crashed out in the early rounds at Indian Wells and Miami last month.

The player who has won the last three Grand Slam events and could conclude a personal sweep with another title at Roland Garros in June, feels that all he needs is more court time and some extra polish.

“The French Open is the ultimate goal on clay. It’s expected in a way for me to peak right at that tournament, because that’s what I’m aiming for.

“This is only the first tournament on clay, and it’s a long season. Let’s see how it goes.

“Maybe I’m lacking the consistency with the top results in the last couple of years in the best tournaments. But I’ve been playing my best at Grand Slams and that’s what I intend to do.”

Djokovic was broken three times in the final set, clawing one back but exiting when Medvedev drove a backhand into the far corner on match point.

The winner totalled less than half of the 47 unforced errors which came off the Djokovic racquet in the two-hour, 20-minute struggle in windy conditions.

“Novak played worse here than the times before,” Medvedev said. “But I’m also getting more experience.

Medvedev will meet another Serb, Dusan Lajovic, on Saturday for a place in the final after the latter beat Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 7-5. There had been few expectations from Lajovic after falling ill prior to the tournament start.

“I was on antibiotics last week, I didn’t know how I’d do,” he said.

“But I’m now into my first Masters semifinal.

“I’ve been playing my best tennis. I’ve done well in every match,” added Lajovic, who has not dropped a set so far.

“We had some wind today, it was a struggle every game. It was not easy today. In the second set I got a bit tight and he began playing better. I’m just happy to get the win in two sets.”

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