Daniil Medvedev suffers rankings hammer blow after Dubai defeat – and it could get worse

Kevin Palmer
Daniil Medvedev 2024 Australian Open
Daniil Medvedev reacts at the 2024 Australian Open

Daniil Medvedev had high hopes of defending his title in Dubai, but he is now facing up to a challenging few weeks after losing to Ugo Humbert in the semi-finals.

After the drama of Andrey Rublev’s disqualification in Dubai following his confrontation with a line judge, Medvedev would have fancied his chances of taking advantage of the exit of the second-highest-ranked player in the draw.

Yet the world No 4 could not stop the impressive momentum that has been built up by Ugo Humbert in recent weeks, as the Frenchman moved into the final of the ATP 500 event with a 7-5 6-3 win to seal a place in the final against Alexander Bublik.

“I played the perfect match today,” Humbert said. “One of my best matches.

“It is never easy to play against Daniil but I was ready to play some rallies. With my title at the beginning of the year, I had a lot of confidence and tried to bring everything to court.”

Humbert saved seven of the eight break points he faced and hit 31 winners, and now leads Medvedev 3-1 in their meetings, with Medvedev set to lose 300 ranking points from his current total after this comprehensive defeat.

His inconsistent form in the defeat against Humbert will be a concern to Medvedev, who will now head to Indian Wells aiming to defend 600 ranking points after his run to the final last year.

With Novak Djokovic back in the draw after missing the 2023 tournament and Jannik Sinner in sparkling form after winning the Australian Open and Rotterdam titles this season, Medvedev may well lose more points in Indian Wells.

He will then look to defend 1,000 points from his impressive win against Sinner in last year’s Miami Open final and on the evidence of this defeat against Humbert, he may not be in top form to repeat his successes of last year.

READ MORE: Did Andrey Rublev get rough justice after extraordinary disqualification in Dubai?

His position as world No 4 may not be under immediate threat as Rublev is his nearest rival and he may be reeling after his disqualification in Dubai.

Yet Medvedev’s hopes of challenging for a move up the ATP rankings look to be forlorn over the next few weeks at least.

The opposite is true for Humbert, who is enjoying a stunning season that has already seen him break into the top 20 of the ATP rankings.

This win against Medvedev will see him rise to No 15 in the provisional rankings and he will be up to No 14 if he can beat Bublik in the final in Dubai.

Coming on the back of his ATP 250 win in Marseille last month, Humbert is one of the form players on the ATP Tour and he may be a man to avoid when the draw is made for the ATP 1000 event at Indian Wells on Monday.

Meanwhile, the fall-out from Rublev’s disqualification will be the big talking point in tennis over the next few days.

The combustible Russian was trailing 6-5 in the third against Alexander Bublik when he appeared to say something to the line judge.

ATP supervisor Roland Herfel came down to the court accompanied by a Russian speaker, who claimed Rublev had sworn in his native language.

Rublev protested, insisting he was speaking in English, while Bublik also backed his opponent.

“I didn’t say ‘f******’. I swear to God. This is huge. I swear to God,” said Rublev.

The offence would usually merit a warning in the first instance, but the 26-year-old was defaulted by umpire Miriam Bley amid jeers from the crowd in Dubai.

Fellow Russian Daria Kasatkina, the world number 12, called the disqualification “a joke”.

She wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “So you can just default a player, take his points and money away, without even checking a video replay???

“What a joke, another confirmation we need a VAR in tennis and an electronic line calling on all tournaments.”

It was a controversial end to a tight match, with Kazakhstan’s Bublik progressing to the final 6-7 (4) 7-6 (5) 6-5.