PARIS (Reuters) – Karen Khachanov caused one of the shocks of the tennis year by overpowering Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-4 in the Paris Masters final to end the Serbian’s remarkable spell of dominance in the men’s game on Sunday.
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 amid a hail of 31 crushing winners from the Muscovite’s racket.
Khachanov, a strapping 6ft 6in huge hitter with surprisingly fleet movement around the court, took advantage of Djokovic appearing to be a little under-the-weather after a week struggling with flu-like symptoms.
Yet even though 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, 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, picked up the biggest title of his burgeoning career.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband)