Khachanov Seals Final Spot In Zhuhai, Faces Nishioka In Title Match
Karen Khachanov snapped a five-match semi-final losing streak on Monday at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, where he defeated Sebastian Korda 7-5, 6-4 to reach his first title match of the season.
The top seed, who last competed in a tour-level final in Adelaide in January 2022 (l. to Monfils), red-lined the ball throughout the one-hour, 47-minute clash. He edged a tight first set, gaining the crucial break at 5-5 when Korda could only find the net with a drop shot.
Khachanov then put his foot down in the second set, hitting the ball with greater depth, weight and precision to dominate the baseline exchanges and improve to 3-2 in the pair's Lexus ATP Head2Head series.
"I expected it would be a very difficult match," Khachanov said. "When he plays well, he has a big serve, big game. Coming forward. Similar to Mackenzie in the last round. Similar game style. I executed pretty well. I was feeling pretty well from the beggining. I think it was a very solid performance today."
The 27-year-old was competing for just the fourth time in singles since his quarter-final match at Roland Garros, where he suffered a stress fracture in his back. He fell in the first round at the US Open, but has recorded three wins in Zhuhai, also defeating Alex Bolt and Mackenzie McDonald.
The World No. 15 will meet Japanese star Yoshihito Nishioka in the championship match on Tuesday. Khachanov is aiming to win his first title since 2018 and fifth overall. He has tasted success on Chinese soil before, lifting the trophy in Chengdu in 2016.
Korda was competing in his eighth tour-level semi-final and was aiming to reach his sixth final. The 23-year-old American is up five spots to No. 28 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his results at the ATP 250 hard-court event.
Nishioka defeated Aslan Karatsev 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first tour-level final since he won the title in Seoul in 2022.
The 27-year-old was sharp on return, winning 65 per cent (17/26) of points on Karatsev's second delivery. Nishioka also limited mistakes, committing just five unforced errors to advance after one hour and 54 minutes.
Nishioka is trying to win his third tour-level trophy and second in China, having triumphed in Shenzhen in 2018. The lefty is up eight spots to No. 38 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.