Daniel Medvedev. (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic’s hopes of finishing the season as world number one for a record seventh time are suspended after Daniil Medvedev beat French qualifier Hugo Gaston 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 to reach the semi-finals. Paris Master finals on Friday.
Djokovic had qualified in the last four earlier on Friday, beating American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-3, and would have been confirmed as the season-ending world number one had Gaston beaten Medvedev.
Djokovic has already suffered a crushing disappointment at the hands of Medvedev this year, with the Russian dashing his dreams of a Grand Slam sweep when he beat him in the US Open final in September.
This prompted Djokovic to take a seven-week hiatus and he admitted his decision to come back this week was to make sure he retains the top spot.
“That’s actually the main reason I came here, trying to get the year-end No. 1,” said Djokovic.
“I hope I can do it this week. Otherwise I will have another chance in Turin (ATP finals November 14-21).”
At one point it looked like it would be a good Friday for the 20-time Grand Slam champion as Gaston, once again playing well above his ranking of 103, served for the opening set.
However, Medvedev broke and then won the tie-break before taking a 4-0 lead, and although the 21-year-old Frenchman got a break, the defending champion kept his cool to serve for the game.
Medvedev emptied his pockets at the end of the match rather than raising his arms to celebrate as he usually does, something he said was a ‘joke’ with his team but was unwilling to share it with the public.
As for the world number one spot, he said it was more in the mind of the one he called his “friend” earlier this week than in his.
âTo be honest, I never thought about it,â he said. âI guess the answer is more in Novak’s mind.
“Chances are he will. That’s why I don’t think about it.”
Medvedev’s semi-final will be a repeat of last year’s final.
He faces Olympic champion Alexander Zverev who knocked out Norwegian sixth seed Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4.
Zverev is in excellent form, the German has just won in Vienna and is looking for his sixth title of the year in Paris.
Hubert Hurkacz became the eighth and last player to advance to the ATP Finals after facing a severe challenge from fellow Australian James Duckworth 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5.
The 24-year-old Pole will look to do better than his compatriot, 2012 finalist Jerzy Janowicz, in Paris.
He faces a huge hurdle to even reach the final as he takes on Djokovic, who looked in very good shape against Fritz.
Hurkacz may have more in the locker than Fritz as he showed in a breakout season, reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon and winning the Miami Masters.
âIt’s crazy,â said Hurkacz, referring to his Masters qualification.
âThe game was so tough today knowing I had to win the game.
“It obviously increased the pressure on me a bit too.”
Hurkacz at least had a good run, before facing the monumental challenge of Djokovic, against Duckworth, 55, in his first quarter-final of the Masters.
Hurkacz needed three match points to win the honors, with the seventh seed raising his arms and then hitting the air in delight.
âYou dream about it when you’re a kid, and you’re, like, when you grow up you don’t know if it’s going to be possible, if you’ll be good enough,â Hurkacz said of the ATP final. .
“Now to realize this thing is very important to me.”