Novak Djokovic advanced to the semi-final in Dubai with a 6-3 7-5 win over Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday, extending his record for 2023 to a perfect 15-0. The top seed could now face a blockbuster clash with Daniil Medvedev as the former world No 1 will do battle with Borna Coric in the last quarter-final of the day.
Djokovic and Hurkacz were both coming into the match on winning streaks, with the world No 1 having not lost a match since November’s Paris Masters final while the Pole lifted the title in Marseille last week. The Dubai quarter-final marked their fifth meeting, with Djokovic winning all four of their previous encounters.
And it was the top seed who looked to make it a perfect 5-0 as he started strong, breaking the 26-year-old to lead 3-1. Both men continued to hold with relative ease in the first set before Djokovic took it 6-3 in 37 minutes.
The fifth seed didn’t let his confidence slip after dropping the opener, as he continued to fire aces past the five-time former champion in Dubai. Neither man could touch each other on serve in the second, racing to level 4-4 in 25 minutes with just three points going against the server so far in the set.
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It was Djokovic whose serve was under pressure for the first time in set number two, as he went 0-30 down while serving to stay in it at 4-5 but he responded perfectly with two winners and an ace, winning four points in a row to hold for 5-5. And Hurkacz was suddenly the one facing some pressure on his own serve in the next game as he suddenly found himself facing two break points after sending the ball into the net on a volley.
The fifth seed saved both but gave away three more before Djokovic finally wore him down and broke to serve for the match at 6-5. And Djokovic quickly closed out a 6-3 7-5 victory in an hour and 21 minutes, booking his spot in the semi-final and putting an end to Hurkacz’s winning streak by extending his own.
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Djokovic now awaits either Medvedev or Coric in Friday’s semi-final, and could be tested if he meets the world No 7 for a 14th time with Medvedev coming into Dubai off the back of winning two successive titles in Rotterdam and Doha. The world No 1 leads their head-to-head by nine wins to four losses but the Russian has often proven a tricky player for Djokovic to get past.
Medvedev was asked about a potential semi-final meeting with Djokovic on Saturday after winning the title in Doha after the pair were placed in the same half of the draw. And he was up for the challenge, saying: “If I want to reach Novak, probably what you say is semis, it’s a great challenge because Novak barely loses matches, so there is a big chance he’s going to be in the semi unless someone plays the match of his life and manage to beat him.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic leads his head-to-head with Coric 4-0 and has never even lost a set to the Croat.
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