KK K.O's Zverev: Khachanov Ousts 2017 Champ In Montreal
Entering the Coupe Rogers, Karen Khachanov had not reached the semi-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament since lifting his maiden title at this level at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters. But the Russian snapped that streak on Friday in Montreal, ousting reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3 to make the last four.
There will be an all-Russian semi-final in Canada, as Khachanov will face friend and countryman Daniil Medvedev, who eliminated second seed Dominic Thiem earlier in the day. The two 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifiers have split their two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
"[It is] never easy to play against a friend from the same country. We grew up together. We played all the tournaments since 12 or 14," Khachanov said. "We know each other pretty well. From one side it's difficult, but from the other side both of us, we know what to expect, how we are playing completely different styles. [It should] be an interesting match."
This will be Khachanov's third Masters 1000 semi-final, with his first coming last year in Toronto, where he fell against eventual champion Rafael Nadal.The 23-year-old began the week in 29th place in the ATP Race To London, but his strong performance will send him inside the Top 20, with room for growth depending how he finishes the weekend.
Zverev, the 2017 Montreal champ, was able to get away with going through the service yips on Thursday against Nikoloz Basilashvili, when he survived 14 double faults. But several early double faults plagued the 22-year-old as Khachanov broke immediately, frustrating the third seed.
And after a better start to the second set, holding in his first two service games, the double fault bug revisited Zverev at 2-3, when he pushed his seventh of the day (he'd tally eight) into the net to give Khachanov a break to love. Credit also goes to the Russian, who showed no apprehension in going after his groundstrokes throughout the match, especially on the forehand side.
"I think he didn't play his best, of course. On the other side, I played a good match tactically, I played solid from the baseline," Khachanov said. "Maybe he was missing a little bit more. That's why he got frustrated."
There was a brief rain delay as Khachanov was nearing victory, serving at 6-3, 4-2, 15/0. But the players did not leave the court during the short shower, and the Russian did not let slip his momentum.
Khachanov showed a slight sign of nerves as he tried to serve out the match at 5-3, chopping a forehand volley wide and then striking a forehand into the net to give Zverev two break points. But the Russian sharpened up his game at 15/40, winning four consecutive points to close out his win after one hour and 14 minutes, pumping his right fist in the air while sporting a wide smile towards his camp.
In June, Khachanov became the first Russian man in the Top 10 since Mikhail Youzhny on 7 February 2011. And when Medvedev cracked the elite group on 15 July, they became the first pair of Russians to sit inside the Top 10 at the same time since Youzhny and Nikolay Davydenko on 11 October 2010.
Did You Know?
Last October, Khachanov defeated four consecutive Top 10 opponents en route to the biggest title of his career in Paris, including a stunning straight-sets triumph against Novak Djokovic in the final.