Karen Khachanov has every right to be celebrating big time. The big Russian with is incredible wingspan has won the biggest title of his career, the Rolex Paris Masters beating the best player in the world at the moment, Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-4 on one hour 37 minutes.
“It means the world to me (and) I couldn’t be happier to finish the season like this,” Khachanov said.
This is the first time Khachanov has won a Masters 1000 title and the way he had played through the week should have been a major pointer to title success having accounted for John Isner, Alexander Zverev, very handily, and Dominic Thiem. However, the way Djokovic has been playing the second half of 2018 and being on a 22 match win streak, most figured this would be his 33rd Masters 1000 title which would have equalled Rafa Nadal.
Djokovic got off to a quick start with an early break to lead 3-1 with his impressive baseline game but Khachanov knew it was still the early stages of the match and he bounced back quickly, and impressively reeled off ten consecutive points as he began to rock Djokovic. Khachanov’s forehand was finding its mark and doing damage.
Khachanov struck again late in the first set by breaking serve in the eleventh game and served it out, claiming the set with his third ace, and gaining an important advantage after 58 minutes.
Djokovic appeared a half step slower. He had won a remarkable match the day before in the semis against Roger Federer 7-6, 5-7, 7-6. It was a match the Serb claimed as one of the best he and Federer had played against one another, but certainly seemed to take its toll although he didn’t want to talk about that.
Khachanov remained focused. He had to maintain the pressure on Djokovic at the start of the second otherwise Novak would jump on any opening and assert himself once more. On break point three in the third game, Karen made it third time lucky and got the break. He held his nerve superbly to hold serve the rest of the set to claim the title.
The 22-year-old Russian has now won eleven of his last twelve matches and this is his third title of the year to go with those he won in Marseille and Moscow. Khachanov has now won all four finals he has contested, and he is the third first-time winner of a Masters 1000 in 2018 joining Juan Martin Del Potro and John Isner from Indian Wells and Miami respectively.
“One thing that with Novak you cannot just go to the net because he has unbelievable passing shots,” Khachanov said. “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 to play the way I played, actually.”
The doubles title went to Marcel Granollers and Rajeev Ram, they defeated Jean-Julien Roger and Horia Tecau 6-4, 6-4.