Paris: Karen Khachanov caused one of the shocks of the tennis year by overpowering Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-4 in the Paris Masters final yesterday to end the Serbian’s remarkable spell of dominance in the men’s game.
The 22-year-old Russian has for some time been seen as one of the rising young talents of the sport but few could have envisaged his demolition of the Serbian superstar, who was on a three-month, 22-match winning streak.
Djokovic was expected to celebrate his return to world number one on Monday with a record-extending fifth Paris title, but he went down in one hour 37 minutes thanks in no small part to a hail of 31 crushing winners from the Muscovite’s racquet.
Khachanov took advantage of Djokovic appearing to be under the weather after a week struggling with flu-like symptoms.
The Serb may also have been suffering from the after-effects of his epic three-hour win over Roger Federer in the semi-final on Saturday, but nothing could be taken away from the outstanding quality of Khachanov’s attacking game.
Earning his fourth straight win over a top-10 player this week, Khachanov – whose muscular game resembles that of his childhood hero Marat Safin, the last Russian winner in Paris – claimed the biggest title of his burgeoning career. —Agencies