Novak Djokovic set for swift return to world No 1 after Daniil Medvedev loses to Gael Monfils

Daniil Medvedev’s unexpected exit from Indian Wells will have two significant consequences. One, it means that Novak Djokovic will reclaim the world No1 ranking on Monday. And two, the chances of a Russian player lifting this title just became much more remote. 

Gael Monfils, the 35-year-old Frenchman who ousted Medvedev on Monday via a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 comeback win, happens to be married to Ukraine’s best player: world No 18 Elina Svitolina. As Monfils said after his win: “My second family [is] battling. It’s not easy to see my wife crying every night. It was tough. I’m there for her every day. Quite a lot of family still there. But we manage it the best way that we can.” 

Indian Wells has seen many blue-and-yellow badges and ribbons as players expressed their solidarity with the victims of Russia’s invasion. The Russian players have continued under a neutral flag, but it was hardly surprising that Monfils had strong crowd support. With or without a political cause to represent, Monfils is always a hugely popular figure, and he gave a spectacular display. While his forehand was breathtaking at times, it was overshadowed by a series of devilish underarm serves, laced with sidespin to make them even more confounding. 

Djokovic will return to No 1 on Monday despite not having played here on account of his anti-vaccination position. Medvedev – who has never been beyond the fourth round at Indian Wells – would need to reach the semi-finals in Miami in a couple of weeks’ time to reclaim top spot before the clay-court swing begins again in Monte Carlo in mid-April. By that stage, Djokovic will be back on the tour, with a high chance of playing events in both France and Britain in the next few months. 

Dan Evans put up a strong showing against Rafael Nadal, but was still swept away by a 7-5, 6-3 margin as Nadal continued his unbeaten record in 2022. This was the recent Australian Open champion’s 17th straight win. But British tennis can celebrate a new entry to the top 100 in the WTA rankings – something that doesn’t happen often – after Harriet Dart beat Kaia Kanepi. 

Dart will now get a crack at the big-hitting American Madison Keys in tonight’s fourth-round match. British women have tended not to prosper in the unique conditions in the Californian desert, and Dart would be breaking new ground if she were to forge on through to the quarter-finals.

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