Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Unseeded Khachanov stuns Djokovic to win Paris Masters

Khachanov hammers ailing Zverev in Paris Masters Djokovic beats Federer in epic Paris semi
Rita Gibson | 05 November, 2018, 06:43

Karen Khachanov produced a relentless display of aggressive hitting to end Novak Djokovic's 22-match winning run and secure his maiden Masters 1000 title at the Paris Masters.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion showed trademark resilience to fend off three break points while trailing 4-2, but Khachanov displayed steely composure to seal a memorable victory after an hour and 38 minutes. "I couldn't be happier to finish the season like this".

But world number 18 Khachanov, a victor at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last month, hit back in the very next game as Djokovic dragged a forehand into the tramlines, down break point.

"I won 20-plus matches in a row and had a most wonderful last five months of the year", Djokovic said following his 7-5, 6-4 defeat by Russia's Khachanov.

Djokovic overcame Roger Federer in an energy-sapping thriller that lasted over three hours in Saturday's semi-finals, and the Serb began to look tired as he dropped serve to a fall behind early in the second set.

"Big respect to Roger", Djokovic said, addressing the crowd in French. Even though the latter's serve was not broken once, it was still not enough for the 37-year-old, whose nerve failed him in an anti-climactic final tie-break in which he served a double fault and made two careless groundstroke errors. "I want to talk about how well [Khachanov] played all week and absolutely deserved to win today".

Still, the Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion has plenty to feel good about after a 22-match winning streak, and he remains a favourite for the season-ending ATP Finals in London, beginning November 11.

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"Next to the match I played against (Rafa) Nadal in the Wimbledon semis, this was definitely the most exciting match I've played this year, and probably the best quality match that I was part of".

"After that, my intensity (changed), I stepped in more inside the court, started to move him and maybe he didn't expect that", said Khachanov, who did not give up another break point in the rest of the match with his pinpoint, heavy serving.

"All the credit to him".

Coming into the week, Khachanov had a 3-16 record against players ranked in the world Top 10.

A player who never listens and who never opens up will never evolve and will not reach the top.

"He deserves his trophy and I am sure we will see a lot of great matches from him in the future". The unseeded Russian won the first set with a big first serve that Djokovic could not return, stretching out his racket in vain as the fizzing ball clipped the frame.

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