Monaco: An erratic Novak Djokovic suffered a surprise 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 defeat against Daniil Medvedev in the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals on Friday.
The 10th-seeded Russian was appearing in the last eight of a Masters tournament for the first time but was not overawed. In fact, it was the top-ranked Djokovic who made the most mistakes. The two-time champion looked out of sorts in tricky conditions and produced 47 unforced errors.
"On a windy day like today, conditions are changing every game," Djokovic said. "It's tough to find the rhythm and he doesn't give you much rhythm. He was very patient and played well tactically."
After failing to serve out the match, when his Serbian opponent broke back to 5-2 down, Medvedev broke for the fifth time to seal a memorable victory.
Djokovic double-faulted at 30-30 to give Medvedev his first match point and a backhand winner secured a first win against his top-ranked rival at the fourth attempt and a first victory against a No. 1.
"It was amazing," Medvedev said. "He played worse than before and I am gaining more experience. He was not so good in the first set and made a lot of mistakes."
Medvedev twice had his thighs massaged during changeovers in the third set. "Cramp didn't affect my game," he said.
The 23-year-old Monaco resident next faces the unseeded Dusan Lajovic, who also reached a Masters semi for the first time when he beat Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 7-5.
Lajovic has not dropped a set at the clay-court event and is more surprised than anybody.
"I didn't expect this. I was sick before the tournament and taking antibiotics," the 28-year-old Serb said. "But it's the best week of my career."
The same goes for the 23-year-old Medvedev, who is ranked 14 and is chasing a fifth career title.
He had lost the three previous matches against Djokovic, including a tough four-setter in the fourth round of this year's Australian Open.
"In Australia, he was at his best, but I made him run for his win there," said Medvedev.
Djokovic won that tournament to secure a third straight Grand Slam title and 15th overall, moving two behind Nadal and five adrift of Roger Federer's record haul of 20.
But Djokovic has now failed to reach the last four in three straight tournaments, after also falling short at Indian Wells and Miami.
"I am lacking that determination to go for shots on some points," he said.
At times it looked like Djokovic would take control and he clinched the second set with two aces. But his shot-making was below its usual high standards and his drop shot rarely worked.