In his first match since clinching his ascent to No. 1 on the ATP rankings, Daniil Medvedev moved smoothly into the semifinals of the ATP 500 event in Acapulco on Thursday, defeating Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka, 6-2, 6-3.

With current No. 1 Novak Djokovic falling to Czech lefty Jiri Vesely in Dubai earlier in the day, Medvedev was guaranteed to rise to the top spot next week, no matter what happened the rest of this week—the Russian wasn’t aware of that at first, though.

“Yeah, it’s not easy, actually, to play a match when you get this [news] during the day,” Medvedev said following his 70-minute victory over Nishioka.

“Actually to be honest, Novak’s match, I saw that he was losing, but I didn’t know that if he loses I’m gonna become No. 1. I thought I have to do something big here. So then when I was receiving all the messages, I understood, okay, it’s gonna happen.

“The first goal was to still win today, because I’m here to try to win every match I play. But it’s definitely some great news.”

The match between Medvedev and Nishioka was a bit of a break-fest, with 9 of the 17 games in the match being breaks of serve. Nishioka was even up a break twice early in the second set—but Medvedev rattled off the last five games of the match from 3-1 down to close the No. 103-ranked Nishioka out in straight sets, finishing with 26 winners to 16 unforced errors, including 12 aces to 2 double faults.

He sealed the victory with a big ace out wide on the ad side.

“He’s a tough opponent,” Medvedev said. “He’s still in the top of the game for a long time, even after being injured and out for some time. He knows how to return, how to run, how to make some crazy shots when you don’t expect it—so I knew it’s gonna be a tough one, and I’m happy I managed to keep my composure until the end.”

Medvedev has now won 35 of his last 40 matches, a stretch that dates back to his run to the US Open title last year.

Medvedev has now won 35 of his last 40 matches, a stretch that dates back to his run to the US Open title last year.


Up next for Medvedev: Rafael Nadal.

Nadal had a tougher go of things in his quarterfinal match, bageling Tommy Paul in the first set but then getting broken three times in a grueling one-hour, 35-minute second set before sneaking past the American in straight sets, 6-0, 7-6 (5).

“I think I played one of the best sets since a long time ago—I played fantastic that first set—then in the beginning of the second I made a couple of mistakes, and then he started to play better and better,” Nadal said in his on-court interview.

Nadal leads Medvedev in their head-to-head, 4-1, but their last four meetings have gone the absolute distance, including a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory for Nadal 25 days ago in the Australian Open final, which gave the Spaniard a record 21st career Grand Slam title. That match lasted five hours and 24 minutes.

“Everybody knows how difficult it is to play against Daniil,” Nadal said. “I have to play at my highest level if I want to have a chance. It’s going to be another battle.

"He’s playing well, with confidence, No. 1 right now, so I’m excited to play that match.”

“It’s always special to play him, kind of a chance to get my revenge,” Medvedev said. “You have to learn from the best, which is him, Roger, Novak, Andy—always when they were losing a tough fight, they were trying to get their revenge. Sometimes they managed to win, sometimes not, so that’s what I hope to do if I’m gonna play Rafa.”