Khachanov To Meet Pouille In Final
Karen Khachanov reached his second ATP World Tour final after beating Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2 at the Open 13 Provence on Saturday.
The World No. 47, competing in his first semi-final of 2018, looked in great form throughout the 74-minute contest, winning 90 per cent of first serve points (26/29) to reach the championship match. Khachanov improved to a 2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record over the Czech No. 1, after winning their only previous encounter last season at Roland Garros.“I am happy with my performance, I did everything I should have done today,” said Khachanov. “It is the nicest feeling when you come to the tournament and play until the final… I feel great here.”
The ninth seed will face home favourite Lucas Pouille in Sunday’s final. Pouille advanced to his second final of the season after beating qualifier Ilya Ivashka 6-3, 7-6(6). The final will be Khachanov and Pouille’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
While the two have never crossed paths in match play, they have practised together in the past. “I know him well,” said Khachanov. “We are friends, he plays great tennis and it will be a difficult final.”
Pouille, who won the Open Sud de France two weeks ago (d. Gasquet), became just the third player to reach multiple finals in 2018 (Federer, Anderson) after 84 minutes, firing 10 aces and breaking Ivashka's serve on three occasions.
The Frenchman had served for the match at 6-5 in the second set, but was forced into a tie-break after the Belarusian saved three match points. “[It is] always difficult to end a match,” admitted Pouille. “I relaxed for a moment and he played well.”
The five-time tour-level champion shared his delight at his current level and how he has created an opportunity to lift another trophy, so early in the season. “My level is quite good. I'm happy to be in the final,” said Pouille.
The Frenchman has now reached back-to-back Marseille finals after losing last year’s championship match to compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets. The 24-year-old will be aiming to become the eighth French champion in the past 13 years of the event.
In doubles, top seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus overcame a strong challenge to beat Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-8. Klaasen and Venus could not find a way to break the third seeds in the 84-minute clash, but held their nerves to win both the second set tie-break and decisive Match Tie-break, to set up a final meeting with Marcus Daniell and Dominic Inglot. Daniell and Inglot are yet to drop a set in the tournament.
Did You Know?
Pouille and Ivashka were born just one day apart, with both men celebrating their 24th birthdays this week. Pouille turned 24 on Friday, while Ivashka celebrated his birthday by playing his first ATP World Tour semi-final, against Pouille, on Saturday.