Karen Khachanov is the ‘real deal’ after Paris Masters title, says Greg Rusedski
Karen Khachanov “announced himself to the world” with victory against Novak Djokovic at the Paris Masters and confirmed himself as the “real deal”, says Greg Rusedski.
The giant Russian produced a dynamic performance full of intent in his maiden Masters 1000 final to end Djokovic’s 22-match winning run and move to the cusp of the world’s top 10 for the first time.
Khachanov had already won titles in Marseille and Moscow this season and underlined his progression in the men’s game with a nerveless performance, recovering from a break down in the first set to win 7-5 6-4 against the 14-time Grand Slam champion.
- Khachanov beats Djokovic for Paris title
Djokovic, who has won Wimbledon and the US Open this season, was bidding to mark his return to world No 1 on Monday by joining Rafael Nadal with a record-equalling 33rd Masters 1000 title.
But after back-to-back three-set encounters against Marin Cilic and Roger Federer he failed to produce the level of tennis which has seen him return to his best form.
“It is amazing what the Russian has done. He has played superb tennis and to beat Djokovic, the only youngster to do so,” Rusedski said.
“There is a certain guy by the name of Sascha Zverev, who we have been talking about as a future No 1 who did the same to Roger Federer a few years ago in Montreal.
“To have another up-and-coming guy beat Djokovic in the final of a Masters series is special. This is a big moment and he has announced himself to the world.
“He is going to be top 10 very soon next year and he is the real deal. This is what the game of men’s tennis needs. We have had the big three dominating for so many years but we need these youngsters to break through at the big moments, and that is what he did today.
This what we need – a new superstar, who can threaten the very best.
“He served spectacularly. He did exactly what he needed to do.”
Rusedski added: “He looks like he is only going to get better. This is what we need – a new superstar, who can threaten the very best.”
The victory for Khachanov was the 22-year-old’s fourth consecutive one over a top-10 opponent this week, which included saving two match points against John Isner in the last 16, and Sky Sports analyst Annabel Croft believes his resolve has proved integral to his successful week in Paris.
“That is what we saw all the way through this week, even against Isner, when he was struggling to break that serve down and it went all the way to the bitter end of that match, but he showed great mental resilience,” Croft said.
“Even in that first set when you felt it was teetering on the edge and Djokovic might have gone on to control the match, he stuck with him, dug deep and competed from the back of the court.
“I thought the longer the rallies would go, it would be more difficult to break down Djokovic, but it was actually the reverse.
“The longer rallies that he started to win started to eek into the psyche of Djokovic. So much to admire from him. It was a breathtaking performance. I think it is the beginning of a really exciting future for him.”
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