ATP Paris Masters 2018 final, Karen Khachanov vs Novak Djokovic: 3 things learned
Karen Khachanov of Russia defeated Novak Djokovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-4 in the final of the Paris Masters on Sunday to win the first Masters title of his career. Khachanov is a 22-year-old player who has managed to win 4 career singles title till date. On the other hand, the 32-year-old Djokovic is one of the greatest players of all time and has won 32 Masters titles in his glorious career.
The stark contrast in their respective careers and profiles was, however, not reflected in the match as Khachanov dominated and dictated terms in most of the crucial points. Khachanov broke Djokovic in the 11th game of the first set after the score was tied at 5-5. He then went on to hold his serve and win the set 7-5. Similarly, he again broke Djokovic only once in the second set, but it was enough to secure the title for him.
Djokovic had beaten Roger Federer in the semifinal to set up the clash with Khachanov. This was also his first loss in 23 matches. He has had a great 2018 so far and won the Wimbledon, US Open and the Cincinnati Masters this year. He became the world No.1 again on Sunday but the celebrations were marred by the defeat in the Masters final. Sunday’s match also showed that he has become somewhat slower with age and his younger opponents might continue to exploit that weakness.
We would like to look at the 3 talking points from the match:
#1 Khachanov’s serve and groundstrokes are exceptionally good:
Khachanov served exceptionally well against Djokovic and his first serve percentage was a very impressive 76%. Djokovic could not break his serve even once and had difficulty in contending with it. The average speed of Khachanov’s serve in the match was 194 Kmph and Djokovic struggled to put his return in the proper place most of the times.
Moreover, Khachanov also hit some solid groundstrokes which kept Djokovic on the backfoot for a majority of the game. He hit 17 winners in the second set alone and made Djokovic toil hard in most of the rallies. Even Djokovic’s exceptional court coverage was not enough to handle Khachanov’s vicious forehands. The Russian would, however, have to work on his backhand a bit.