Djokovic: 'He Can Really Hurt You'
The 31-year-old Serbian, who will return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on 5 November, was bidding to capture his third straight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and join rival Rafael Nadal with a record 33 titles at the level. But Khachanov upset the odds with fearless play, improving his unbeaten record to 4-0 in tour-level championship matches after one hour and 39 minutes.
"[Karen] absolutely deserved to win the match today," said Djokovic. "All the credit to him. He deserves it. He's a young player, up and coming. But already an established player, a top player. He showed great quality today and he showed why we're going to see a lot of him in the future.
"He was playing big from the back of the court. Flat backhands and forehands. He can really hurt you. That's a big weapon... His serve is really, really strong and precise. His overall game was really, really great all week."
Not to be discouraged by his final loss, Djokovic focused on important milestones after a hard-fought week in the French capital. Djokovic was twice pushed to a third set, in back-to-back matches, by Marin Cilic and Roger Federer but continued to showcase his best level at crucial moments.
With victory over Damir Dzumhur in the third round, Djokovic notched his sixth tour-level win streak of 20 or more matches. The Wimbledon and US Open champion will now shift his focus towards the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.
"I'm satisfied, of course, [with this week]," said Djokovic. "I'm going to be No. 1 tomorrow officially. What more can I ask for? I won 20-plus matches in a row and had the most amazing last five months of the year. I'm going into the season finale [in London] with a lot of confidence and feeling good about my game."
Djokovic will be bidding to equal Federer's record six crowns at the elite eight-man event in London this year. The Career Golden Masters winner captured four consecutive trophies at the season-ending event from 2012 to 2015 and will be eager to end his year on a high by clinching the year-end No. 1 position in the ATP Rankings. Both Djokovic and Nadal are still capable of finishing the 2018 season as World No. 1.
"Now it's recovery time for half of the week and [I will spend the other] half of the week training," said Djokovic.
Djokovic will enter London with a 565-point ATP Race To London lead over Nadal, who will be aiming to finish the year as the top-ranked player for the second straight year. Both men are attempting to join Federer with five year-end No. 1 finishes.