Following Novak Djokovic’s loss to Jiri Vesely in Dubai, Daniil Medvedev is guaranteed to reach the top spot in the ATP Rankings on Monday. He will become the first man outside the “Big 4” to reach World No. 1 since Andy Roddick in 2004.
Following his quarter-final win in Acapulco Thursday, the Russian is two wins away from starting his reign in supreme style behind a 14th tour-level title.
“It’s not easy to play a match when you get this news during the day,” said Medvedev, who did not know that Djokovic’s loss guaranteed him the top spot until he started receiving congratulatory messages.
“The first goal for me was to still win today because I’m here to try to win every match I play. But it’s definitely some great news.”
The 26-year-old broke serve six times in the match but twice found himself behind in an eventful second set as Nishioka provided a stern test with his shot tolerance and elite speed.
Four straight games against serve saw Medvedev close out the opening set then fall behind 2-1 in the second. The Japanese pushed his lead to 3-1, but Medvedev rallied to win the final five games of the contest, winning points from all over the court with equal parts power, consistency and delicate touch.
While Nishioka threatened on the return and hit several passing shots as he rallied early in set two, he held serve just once in each frame as Medvedev’s return game dominated. The Russian won an incredible 70 per cent (19/27) of points against the Nishioka first serve in the one-hour, 10-minute contest.
“Yoshihito is a tough opponent. I think his weak point is his serve,” Medvedev assessed. “He knows how to return, how to run how to make some crazy shots when you don’t expect it.”
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Continuing his fine form from the Australian Open, Medvedev has dropped just eight games in his past two matches, and 15 in total on the week.
Making his debut in Acapulco, he improves to 12-2 on the season and does his part to set up a blockbuster semi-final against Rafael Nadal — a rematch of their five-set Australian Open final. The Spaniard faces Tommy Paul on Thursday night.
“If I play Rafa, it’s always special to play against him,” Medvedev said. “Kind of a chance to get my revenge.
“I have to learn from the best, which is him, Roger, Novak, Andy. Always when they were losing a tough fight, they were trying to get their revenge. Sometimes they managed to do it, sometimes not. That’s what I’m going to try to do if I play Rafa.”