Khachanov Topples Tsitsipas In Miami
Karen Khachanov ended his victory drought against Top 10 opponents in style on Tuesday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where the World No. 16 downed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
Khachanov entered the match with an 0-6 ATP Head2Head record against the Greek but produced a confident display full of clean groundstrokes off both wings on Grandstand. The second-seeded Tsitsipas never found his best level as Khachanov’s high-energy performance snapped a 23-match losing streak against players in the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“They say third time is a charm, but for me it took seven times, so I’m super happy,” said Khachanov after his 93-minute win. “Not most importantly that I beat Stefanos, but I think with the way I’m playing. After the Australian Open, I had some issue with an injury. I came back in Dubai without having played many matches and I’m just happy to continue that level.
“I just want to continue that way, enjoy the process, and enjoy the journey. It continues.”
Khachanov fended off two Tsitsipas break points and did not conjure a single one of his own in a first set largely dominated by serve, but the 26-year-old was rewarded for his persistence as he pressured Tsitsipas into a series of backhand errors en route to claiming the tie-break.
Taking the lead appeared to further galvanise Khachanov, whose precise serving offered the World No. 3 Tsitsipas few opportunities to settle into rallies on return. After clinically breaking Tsitsipas’ serve to love in the fifth game, Khachanov showed no sign of nerves as he completed his victory having won 89 per cent (39/44) of points behind his first delivery.
Khachanov has now reached the quarter-finals in four of the six tour-level events he has played this year. That sequence includes reaching his second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final at January's Australian Open, where he ultimately fell to Tsitsipas. The 26-year-old said staying aggressive to pin the powerful Tsitsipas back had been crucial to engineering his revenge win in Miami.
“I think [restricting Tsitsipas] was the key,” said Khachanov. “Both of us were serving pretty well in the first set… Then I took it to the tie-break, and in the second set as soon as the opportunity came, I had to take it.
“Those conditions are pretty quick, so I think it’s crucial to have the first serve going and the first shot after. I think both of us played extremely aggressive, so whoever took the chance first got the win.”
Khachanov’s run to his maiden quarter-final in Miami has lifted him two spots to No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The 26-year-old’s next opponent at Hard Rock Stadium will be 25th seed Francisco Cerundolo or Lorenzo Sonego.