Match Report

Khachanov ends Mensik’s run, captures Doha crown

The 27-year-old saved four set points in opening set
February 24, 2024
Qatar Tennis
Karen Khachanov wins the ATP 250 event in Doha. By ATP Staff

Karen Khachanov triumphed at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Saturday to capture his sixth tour-level crown and first of this season.

In a heavy-hitting battle, the 27-year-old outlasted #NextGenATP Czech Jakub Mensik 7-6(12), 6-4 at the ATP 250, where Khachanov did not drop a set all week. Khachanov fended off four set points in the opener before he stepped in on the 18-year-old’s second serve at 12/13, crushing a forehand return to gain a one-set advantage on his fourth set point.

Khachanov, who is up two spots to No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, built upon his momentum to break Mensik’s serve in the opening game of the second set. It deflated a dream week for the teen, who was competing in just his third tour-level event and had become the youngest finalist in Doha tournament history.

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"Every title is a special one," Khachanov said in his on-court interview. "Every time, you want to win. We play around 22 tournaments per season and at the end of the day, you compete every week. For sure here in Doha it is one of the nicest trophies.

"I thought yesterday's [tie-break] was preparation for today, 14/12 [against Alexei Popyrin]. Today I couldn't believe it was the same score, same tie-break... I stayed strong, I'm extremely happy that I won the first set. It lifted me a lot and gave me a lot of confidence to step up in the second."

Both players fired booming serves throughout the one-hour, 49-minute encounter, precisely hitting their targets and searching for the first opportunity to step inside the court. "For a minute, I thought I was playing John Isner and not Jakub Mensik today," Khachanov said with a laugh during the trophy presentation regarding Mensik's 16 aces.

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Khachanov did not face a break point all match as he won 83 per cent of points behind his first delivery. He maintained hefty firepower from the baseline and held the advantage in backhand cross-court rallies to claim his first title since Zhuhai last September.

Mensik impressed throughout the entire week in Doha, where he defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and three former champions — Andy Murray, top seed Andrey Rublev and Gael Monfils — en route to his first tour-level final. The Prostejov native is up to a career-high No. 87 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and will make his Top 100 debut on Monday.

Mensik also holds the top spot in the Pepperstone ATP Race to Jeddah as he aims for his first trip to the 20-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals. The 6'4" Czech took advantage of a Next Gen reserved spot into the ATP 250 as part of new opportunities for players aged 20 and under. Players inside the Top 350 receive up to eight ATP Challenger Tour 100 and 125 opportunities. But as a Top 250 player Mensik also receives one opportunity in an ATP 250 main draw (and two ATP 250 qualifying events).

"For sure this week will be unforgettable for me," Mensik said. "From the beginning, I didn't even get to this tournament on my own ranking. I had to use the Next Gen spot, so I tried to enjoy every moment on the court. I didn't expect that I will go through to the final. So I'm really happy with my performance.

"I am sad and also happy at the same time, because a tough loss today, but yeah, it was a great match."

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