Russia's Daniil Medvedev celebrated his rise to the world No 1 ranking with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka in the quarter-finals of the ATP Mexico Open on Thursday.
Medvedev, 26, had to keep his emotions in check after learning he would take over the top spot this Monday following Novak Djokovic's quarter-final defeat at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
But he got the job done against Japan's Nishioka and booked a semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal in a rematch of the Australian Open final.
"It's not easy actually to play a match when you get this [news] during the day," Medvedev said.
Djokovic's 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) upset at the hands of Czech world No 123 Jiri Vesely ensured the Serb's reign will end.
"To be honest, I saw that he was losing, but I didn't know that if he loses I'm going to become number one," Medvedev said. "I thought that I had to do something big here. So then when I was receiving all the messages, well, I understood, OK, it's going to happen."
Medvedev will become the first man since 2004 outside of Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to occupy the number one spot.
However, Medvedev admitted it was tough to celebrate given the tensions back home. Medvedev's rise to the top happened on the same day that Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, was not easy,” Medvedev said. “By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries; I’ve been in so many countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m all for peace.”
Medvedev noted that the pair that won the doubles title at the Marseille Open last week included one Russian [Andrey Rublev] and one Ukrainian [Denys Molchanov], saying: “This was amazing, because people need to stay together.”
Reflecting on the day, Medvedev added: “In these moments, you understand that tennis sometimes is not that important. It was not easy to play and I’m happy that I managed to win the match, but it was a bit of a roller-coaster day for me.”