Djokovic still unbeaten in ’23, makes Dubai semis

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic stayed unbeaten this season by defeating Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the semifinals at the Dubai Championships on Thursday.

The five-time Dubai champion’s 20th straight victory sets up a possible last-four match against former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, who was playing Borna Coric later at the hard-court tournament.

Djokovic is playing in his first event since winning the Australian Open for his record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam singles title. The 35-year-old Serb had a partially torn hamstring when he captured his 10th title at Melbourne Park.

Djokovic improved to 15-0 this season and hasn’t lost since dropping the Paris Masters final to Holger Rune last November. He followed that up by winning the ATP Finals title in Turin.

Defending Dubai champion Andrey Rublev will face Alexander Zverev in the other semifinal match.

Rublev advanced by defeating Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 7-6 (3). Zverev topped Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4.

It will be Zverev’s first semifinal since the French Open last June, when he injured his right ankle while playing against Rafael Nadal. He underwent surgery days later to repair torn ligaments.

“It’s been a very difficult time for me the last, I would say, nine months,” the 25-year-old German, who was the runner-up at the 2020 U.S. Open, said in his on-court interview. “The hard work is paying off and I’m extremely happy with what the progress is and how I’m playing right now.”

Rublev, a 25-year-old Russian who is ranked No. 6, reached the semifinals for the third straight year.

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