Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev's reign as world number one lasted just three weeks after suffering a shock third-round defeat to Frenchman Gael Monfils at the Indian Wells Masters (BNP Paribas Open) Monday. (More Tennis News)
Medvedev, competing as a neutral athlete in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent global backlash, needed to reach at least the last eight to maintain his place at the top of the ATP rankings.
But the 26-year-old from Moscow lost his third-round match in California in three sets (6-1, 6-3, 6-1) as world number 28 Monfils produced a stunning fightback. This was the 35-year-old's first win over a world number one since 2009 and his fifth fourth round at Indian Wells in six years.
The two-hour and six-minute match also witnessed Medvedev losing his cool. After being broken in the first game of that deciding set, Medvedev smashed his racket and earned a code violation.
“Is it better to be No. 1 for let's say one week in your life or never touch it?” Medvedev said. “You know, I think it's still better to at least touch it.”
Medvedev, the reigning US Open champion, took the top spot from Djokovic on February 28, ending the Serbian great's record 361 weeks atop the ATP, a period which also saw the 20-time Grand Slam champion finishing a season as No.1 seven times.
The Russian had become the first player outside the 'Big Four' of Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to move to number one in the world rankings for 18 years, three weeks and six days - since Andy Roddick reached the top spot on February 1, 2004.
He was also the third Russian to achieve the feat, after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin who were respectively top for six and nine weeks.
Medvedev's defeat means that Djokovic will return to the top of the world rankings.
Djokovic however is absent from the Indian Wells event as he is unvaccinated, and can't travel to the United States. The 34-year-old last week tweeted that the Centers for Disease Control “confirmed the regulations won’t be changing so I won’t be able to play in the U.S.”
Djokovic, who has played in only one tournament so far in 2022, was deported from Australia in January and was not allowed to try to defend the Australian Open title.
Nadal ended up winning the Australian Open for his 21st Major, thus breaking a three-man tie with Djokovic and Federer for the most Grand Slam titles by a male player.
On Monday, the Spaniard defeated 27th-seeded Daniel Evans 7-5, 6-3 in the third round to improve his record to 17-0 this year in pursuit of an ATP Tour-leading fourth title.
Nadal tied Federer (2018) and Pete Sampras (1997) for the third-best overall start to a season in the Open era that began in 1968. He is now the first player to win 400 matches in ATP Masters 1000 events.