Friday, 16 November, 2018

Karen Khachanov victory can't stop Novak Djokovic reclaiming No 1 spot

Kei Nishikori upset the Paris crowd after hitting a ball into Roger Federer. Pic ATPMore Kei Nishikori upset the Paris crowd after hitting a ball into Roger Federer. Pic ATPMore
Eugene Bates | 07 November, 2018, 08:18

In a 47th meeting between the two greats, the stubborn Djokovic simply refused to be beaten as he eked out a fourth successive victory over Federer in a tiebreak decider after three compelling hours.

Marat Safin - to whom Karen Khachanov has often been compared - won the Paris Masters three times, but lost his first final to Andre Agassi.

He said: "I am very happy to come to the finals but I didn't feel too good today".

Cilic wrapped up the opener in the 10th game, ending Djokovic's 30-set win streak in the process.

"He's a young player, up and coming, but already an established player, a top player". So all the credit to him.

Karen Khachanov saved two match points against John Isner on his way to defeating the eighth-seeded American 6-4, 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (10/8).

"When you lose a close match like this you always have regrets", he said.

Djokovic seemed agitated at times and twice turned to his box to remonstrate about an unspecified issue during the first set. In the 2013 semifinals, he bounced back from a set down to beat the Swiss, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Djokovic struggled to handle Khachanov's brutal two-handed, cross-court backhands from the baseline, which often landed near his ankles, and dropped his serve again to trail 2-1 in the second set.

The Russian went on to break the Serbian early on in the second set but failed to capitalise off another three break points in the seventh game.

They don't give you any time and they are serving all really good. "His serve is really, really strong and precise".

Federer thrust his arms into the air, the crowd rose to their feet in sheer disbelief. In general, it's a breakthrough season.

In Sunday's final, the 22-year-old will meet either Roger Federer, looking for an historic 100th title of his career, or Novak Djokovic who has regained the world number one ranking.

"Reflecting on what I've been through in the past year, it's quite a phenomenal achievement", said Djokovic who will face Marin Cilic for a spot in the semi-finals.

"I'm satisfied of course and I'm going to be No. 1 tomorrow". What more can I ask for? This is a minor blip in a remarkable five-month period, ...

The 22-year-old, ranked at number 18 in the world, simply refused to allow the new world number one to settle in the showpiece encounter.

"I'm happy with the way I'm playing".

Khachanov will rise to world number 11 on Monday and becomes the first Russian since Nikolay Davydenko in 2009 to win a Masters 1000 title.

Djokovic had his personal-best winning sequence of 30 consecutive sets ended in Bercy as Cilic played nearly flawlessly aggressive tennis to draw first blood in a magnificent duel.

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