Flawless Djokovic sets up Medvedev blockbuster in Dubai

Novak Djokovic has stayed on course for his third title of 2023 by powering into the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-3 7-5 win over Hubert Hurkacz.

But he next faces a major obstacle in the last-four with a blockbuster clash against Daniil Medvedev, who's on an equally brilliant roll.

The 35-year-old Djokovic, unbeaten in 2023, won in Adelaide before sealing his 22nd grand slam at the Australian Open while managing a hamstring injury and has hit top form after a slow start in Dubai on his return to the tour.

He's now won 15 straight matches this year, as well as five at the end of last year en route to his ATP Finals triumph, taking his unbeaten run to 20.

Having breezed through the first set on the back of a single break on Thursday, Djokovic found the going a bit tougher in the next as the big-serving Hurkacz raised his game in search of a first win over the world No.1 in their fifth meeting.

After a crucial hold from 0-30 down to draw level at 5-5, Djokovic grabbed another break to heap the pressure on Hurkacz and the five-times champion closed out the match on serve.

"It was a challenging match as it always is against Hubert," Djokovic said. "I think he's got one of the best serves in the game. In the second set, until the 11th game I didn't have too many chances against his serve.

"Fortunately for me, I also found the rhythm on my serve... one or two points can decide the winner in matches like these.

"I'm really glad with the way I played under pressure."

Up next for Djokovic is former world no.1 Medvedev, who later beat Borna Coric 6-3 6-2.

Remarkably, the Russian, who is aiming for a third straight tournament win in successive weeks after triumphs in Rotterdam and Doha, won the final 21 points of the match.

"To win 21 points in a row, I don't know if that's my personal record on the ATP Tour," Medvedev said.

"I'm playing good right now, but when you play Novak, Novak is always the favourite."

Alexander Zverev earlier reached his first semi-final since last year's French Open with a 7-5 6-4 win over Lorenzo Sonego.

The seventh seed has had a torrid time after injuring his ankle at Roland Garros and undergoing surgery, only returning to the ATP tour in December after suffering a bone edema problem during his rehabilitation.

"It's been a very difficult time for me over the last nine months," world No.16 Zverev said. "I haven't played tennis at all for such a long period for the first time in my life.

"It definitely shows that the hard work is paying off and I'm extremely happy with my progress and how I'm playing right now. I'm happy to be in my first semi-final since the injury.

"Hopefully, it won't be my last and hopefully there's much more to come here."

Zverev next plays defending champion Andrey Rublev after the combustible Russian overcame a late wobble to get past Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 7-6 (7-3).

Zverev has won each of their five meetings, including their last one in the 2021 Cincinnati final.

"It's going to be tough," Rublev said. "I have to play good, aggressive tennis."