Roger Federer announces retirement from professional tennis
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A stunned Novak Djokovic is through to the Astana Open final after Daniil Medvedev pulled out of their thrilling semi-final ahead of a deciding third set. Djokovic edged a dramatic second set tie-break to force a decider before Medvedev surprisingly retired injured.
The elite duo’s first match-up of the season lived up to expectations, but the packed Kazakhstan crowd was left disappointed after Medvedev was forced to retire hurt, with a tantalising third set in prospect with the match finely poised at one set each.
Both players exchanged breaks in the opening stages of an absorbing first set in the Kazhak capital. A near-flawless Medvedev then began to take control of the baseline battle in a series of thrilling rallies.
The aggression in Medvedev’s strokes made it extremely difficult for Djokovic to hold serve, and he eventually succumbed to the Russian’s brilliance as he was broken for a second time.
Medvedev served out to take an intense first set 6-4 in 39 minutes, the first Wimbledon champion Djokovic had lost in the tournament after a relatively serene run to the last four.
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Djokovic was competing in just his second tournament in three months after victory in last week’s Tel Aviv Open in Israel.
The 35-year-old has been fresh after his extended break from the court after his ban from the US Open and North America’s hard court swing due to his unvaccinated status.
Djokovic’s winning record therefore dated back until a French Open quarter-final defeat in May, and he met his match in an on-song Medvedev.
Medvedev has had a disjointed season of his own after a Wimbledon ban disrupted his grass court season, but he looked at his best before his retirement.
World number four Medvedev so often saves his best tennis for the most elite opponents and 21-time grand slam champion Djokovic was made to work hard as both players held serve in a tight opening to the second set.
Medvedev seldom missed a first serve, making it an ominous task for Djokovic despite his status as arguably the greatest returner in men’s tennis history.
Djokovic complained to the referee after receiving a warning for throwing his racquet into the crowd in frustration in the 10th game of the second, after losing an epic point.
But he came into his own deep into the second set, working Medvedev across the court with an exhibition of shot-making.
And he sealed a dramatic tie-break, before the crowd were left shell-shocked as Medvedev shook hands with his opponent before walking off the court.
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