Super Khachanov Dismantles Djokovic For First Master’s 1000 Title
Karen Khachanov surged to his first ever Master’s 1000 title on Sunday by beating world number one to be Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-4 in a match that may be remembered as Khachanov’s first step towards the top of men’s tennis. This win caps off an excellent week for the 22-year-old Russian, who claimed four top 10 wins (beating Djokovic, Thiem, Zverev and Isner) in one tournament, a feat even more remarkable considering that Khachanov had only had 3 top 10 wins in his career coming into this week.
It was Novak Djokovic, fresh from a 3 hour victory over Roger Federer the day before, who came out of the blocks quickly, as he raced to a 3-1 lead, breaking Khachanov’s serve after the Russian had saved four break points. However, Khachanov suddenly came to life, breaking back immediately with some excellent shot making, before trading service holds with his opponent to take the score to 5-5. Khachanov then broke Djokovic for the second time to give himself the chance to serve out the set, which he did with ruthless efficiency, finishing the set with an ace. The match continued in the same fashion in set 2, this time Khachanov taking an early lead after breaking Djokovic’s serve at 1-1. Khachanov never looked troubled from then onwards, taking apart Djokovic’s game using excellent controlled aggression and pin point accuracy on his serving to keep the scoreboard ticking. Khachanov was then able to hold his nerve and serve out the match, claiming victory in 1 hour and 39 minutes.
In his post-match interview Khachanov gave fans an insight into the thinking behind his victory, saying: “One thing that with Novak you cannot just go to the net because he has unbelievable passing shots,” said Khachanov. “You have to really prepare your coming through. You have to really sort out the right shots when you can step in and go to the net. So of course, the best scenario if I’m hitting left-right and I’m coming to the net with a shorter ball, sometimes it was not possible, but sometimes I did it really well. But in general, my game is aggressive, and I have to try to step in more and to play the way I played, actually.”Such clear thinking is impressive to see from any tennis player, especially one who is only 22 years old. Khachanov has shown us that he is certainly a future Grand Slam winner, and that the likes of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal will be replaced by the next generation one day.
Khachanov was also able to break a 22-match winning streak that Djokovic had built up by winning in Cincinnati, Flushing Meadows, Shanghai and reaching the finals in Paris, provingthat Djokovic is human after all. However, Djokovic’s exploits this week ensured that he will return to the position of World Number One in the rankings on Monday and will be the top seed at the ATP World Tour Finals. We now know who will play at the O2 arena next week, with Thiem and Cilic taking the last two spots, and Nishikori coming in to replace the injured del Potro, who unfortunately fractured his patella against Borna Coric in Shanghai.