Daniil Medvedev will become the first man other than Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to hold the world No 1 spot since 2004, after Djokovic ceded his crown with a loss in Dubai.
Russia’s Medvedev, who is playing at the Mexican Open this week, needed to win the tournament outright or progress further than Djokovic did in Dubai in order to overtake him in the rankings.
But Djokovic, who was playing his first tournament since being blocked from competing at the Australia Open last month, suffered a shock loss in the quarter-finals on Thursday to world No 123 Jiří Veselý of the Czech Republic.
It means that Djokovic’s two-year run as No 1 will end on Monday, but so too will the 18-year domination he, Nadal, Federer and Murray have exerted over the position since Feb 1 2004 – a total of 6,958 days.
The last man to reach world No 1 other than the so-called ‘Big Four’ was the now long-retired American Andy Roddick. In contrast, during that time the women’s tour has had 16 different top-ranked players.
Medevedev, 26, was the first of the ‘Next Gen’ players on the men’s side to win a major title last September at the US Open, and has had consistent results since, including reaching the final at the Australian Open where he suffered an agonising five-set loss to Nadal.
Earlier this week, Djokovic had called Medvedev’s rise to the top “inevitable” and congratulated the Russian after his match on Thursday.
There is no doubt though that Medvedev was aided by the Serbian’s near three-month absence from the tour, due in part to his dramatic deportation from Australia for failing to get vaccinated.