The last week of February culminated in a convulsion in the circuit, striking movements in the ranking and a change in the established, consolidated order in world tennis, with the irruption to the top of the Russian Daniil Medvedev and the fall of the Serbian Novak Djokovic.
Nothing is as expected on the tour. Medvedev settles on the heights, Rafael Nadal reborn firm, Djokovic declines. Society settles into a new conditioned normality and tennis is shaken.
Novak Djokovic’s determination to stand up to vaccination and defy the rules has cost him number one. At the moment, and while life goes by due to the current situation, his schedule is in the hands of health requirements. A passport or a visa is no longer enough to access a country. Certain medical requirements are now included in the paperwork.
The Serbian’s competitive landscape is up in the air. More under cover of improvisation than long-term planning. Depending on the development of the pandemic and its requirements.
This has been the case since the beginning of 2022. The pulse with the organization of the Australian Open and the country’s authorities postponed the start of the Belgrade tennis player’s course. The Balkan did not go into action until a week ago. Too much lost ground. Too much advantage for his rivals.
The loss of number one was a matter of time for Novak Djokovic since Medvedev stood in the final of the first Grand Slam of the course. The accounts no longer came out to Nole, now against the current.
He started the season at the Dubai tournament, where the vaccine is not mandatory and where a negative test three days before is enough. The top of the ranking was between the United Arab Emirates and Acapulco, where Medvedev participated, for whom it was enough to play the same role as the Serbian.
Against all odds, Djokovic fell in the quarterfinals against the Czech Jiri Vesely, a player from the previous phase, without excessive merits in his journey and with a gray start to the season. That’s where number one was left. Medvedev reached the semifinals in Mexico.
Although it was not going to be official until this Monday, with the publication of each week’s list, the Russian premiered his new condition against Rafael Nadal in search of the Acapulco final. And he lost.
The irruption to the first place in the ranking of the Muscovite player supposes a change of order in tennis. The third Russian to be number one in the world after Yevyeny Kafelnikov in 1999 and Marat Safin in 2000 ended a reign that seemed eternal, incombustible.
Nobody has been at the top longer than Djokovic, dominating for 361 weeks, 86 of them consecutively. Since February 3, 2020, his stay in first place has been immovable, which he reached for the first time on July 4, 2011.
Medvedev, the twenty-seventh player in history to reach number one in world tennis, thus ends the significant dominance imposed for almost two decades by what is known as the Big Four made up of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, displaced by the injuries of absolutism marked by this unrepeatable litter.
It was on February 1, 2004, when the American Andy Roddick climbed to the top, the last time there was a tennis number one who was not one of these four tennis players who have alternated their stay on the throne.
Eighteen years later Medvedev breaks the established order and imposes his dominance as a reward for a remarkable evolution marked by thirteen titles, including a Grand Slam, the US Open last year that he snatched from Djokovic.