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Khachanov stuns Djokovic to win first Paris Masters title

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PARIS — Karen Khachanov upset a tired-looking Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-4 to win the Paris Masters title and deprive Djokovic of the chance on Sunday to match Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 Masters titles.

Djokovic, a record four-time champion at the indoor event, looked out of energy after an epic three-hour semifinal win against Roger Federer on Saturday.

After also being taken to three sets by Marin Cilic in Friday’s quarterfinals, Djokovic’s semifinal finished at around 8 p.m. He felt he was unable to recover sufficiently from that draining encounter.

“I didn’t unfortunately. But I don’t want to talk about that,” he said. “I want to talk about how well (Khachanov) played all week and absolutely deserved to win today.”

Asked again whether it was also a case of emotional and mental fatigue, after such an intense tussle with Federer, Djokovic repeated his praise for Khachanov.

“Karen played really well and he deserved to win,” Djokovic said. “All the credit to him.”

Although Djokovic broke in the fourth game to move 3-1 up and then led 30-0 on serve, the unseeded Khachanov broke him straight back and the momentum abruptly shifted away from Djokovic.

“I make a couple of unforced errors and just played a bad game,” Djokovic said. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t have that little extra.”

The Serb seemed agitated at times and twice turned to his box to remonstrate about an unspecified issue during the first set.

Khachanov broke for 6-5 when he hit a powerful shot down the line that Djokovic could only scoop back into the net. The unseeded Russian won the first set with a big first serve that Djokovic could not return, stretching out his racket in vain as the fizzing ball clipped the frame.

Djokovic struggled to handle Khachanov’s brutal two-handed, cross-court backhands from the baseline, which often landed near his ankles, and dropped his serve again to trail 2-1 in the second set. He had to save three more break points in the seventh game to hold for 4-3 down.

“He was playing big from the back of the court, flat backhands and forehand. He can really hurt you,” Djokovic said. “His serve is really, really strong and precise.”

After both players held to love, Khachanov showed no nerves – even though he was in his first Masters final – and served out the match.

He secured victory on his first match point when Djokovic chopped a backhand return wide. The imposing Russian thrust both his arms in the air and, moments later, knelt down to kiss the court.

Djokovic will return to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time in two years on Monday, but he will be disappointed at missing out on a 73rd career title, having withstood the best of Federer on Saturday.

Still, the Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion has plenty to feel good about after a 22-match winning streak, and he remains favorite for the season-ending ATP Finals in London, beginning Nov. 11.

“I’m satisfied of course and I’m going to be No. 1 tomorrow. What more can I ask for? I mean, I won 20-plus matches in a row and had a most amazing last five months,” he said. “I’m getting into (the) season finale feeling good about my game.”

The 22-year-old Khachanov, ranked 18th, is the first Russian to win here since Nikolay Davydekno in 2006. Marat Safin won it three times before that.

Khachanov added this title to the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last month for his third title of the year and fourth overall.

He has won all of his four finals.

“We’re going to see a lot of him in the future,” Djokovic said.

Tsitsipas is youngest man in Slam SFs since ’07

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) The Latest on Tuesday at the Australian Open (all times local):

4 p.m.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2007 after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open to follow up on his stunning upset of Roger Federer.

Tsitsipas is the first player from Greece to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, and at 20 years, 168 days, is the youngest man to make the semifinals at a major since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open. He’s the youngest man to do so in Australia since Andy Roddick in 2003.

The No. 14-seeded Tsitsipas will play either 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal or first-time quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe.

“I’m just living the dream,” said Tsitsipas, who had beaten six-time Australian Open winner Federer in the fourth round.

The No. 22-seeded Bautista Agut advanced the hard way, spending more than 14 hours on court through his first four rounds. He had three five-setters starting with a victory over five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray, followed by another against Australian John Millman and, after advancing through the third round in straight sets, his fourth-round win over 2018 finalist Marin Cilic went the distance as well.

2 p.m.

Li Na saw much of herself in a young player on the women’s tour early last year.

The two-time Grand Slam champion didn’t hesitate to anoint Japan’s Naomi Osaka as the player with a bright future.

So, Li, to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July along with fellow former Australian Open champions Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, was not surprised when Osaka won the 2018 U.S. Open and is already a quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park this time.

Li was a trailblazer in women’s tennis, becoming the first player from China to win a WTA title – in 2004 – and the first from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the 2011 French Open. She also won the Australian Open in 2014 after losing two previous finals here.

“When I first saw Naomi Osaka play, I thought she was really calm, very mature on court. She was so focused on her game itself, no pressure, point by point. That quality and the player’s focus really impressed,” she said through a Chinese translator.

1:45 p.m.

Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai have combined for an upset 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) women’s doubles quarterfinal win over top-ranked Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova on Day 9 at the Australian Open.

Krejcikova and Siniakova won the French Open and Wimbledon doubles titles last year and reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open to finish 2018 with the No. 1 ranking.

“They’re a great team – won 2 Slams last year, so we did well,” Stosur said. “We came back from a break in both sets – looking forward to tomorrow.”

Stosur, who had a career high No. 4 ranking in singles and won 2011 U.S. Open title, has two major women’s doubles titles but lost the only final she reached at Melbourne Park in 2006.

“It would be amazing,” Stosur said of winning at home. “I guess we’re close now, in the semis. It only gets harder here.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas was playing Roberto Bautista Agut in the first of the singles quarterfinals on Tuesday, and 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal was playing the last night match on Rod Laver Arena against Frances Tiafoe.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Sore, tired Djokovic expects to be OK for QFs

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Monday at the Australian Open (all times local):

2 a.m.

Record-chasing Novak Djokovic is feeling sore and tired following his late-finishing win over Daniil Medvedev, but thinks he will be OK for his Australian Open quarterfinal match against Kei Nishikori.

“I didn’t feel so great, you know, in the last 20 minutes of the match or so,” Djokovic, aiming for a record seventh men’s title in Australia, said after overcoming a couple of tumbles and a series of energy-sapping baseline exchanges in the 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 win.

Immediately after the match, he said in a TV interview that he had never felt fresher.

At a later news conference, he was more circumspect about his preparation for Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

“It was not the fall. It was not particularly the fall. It was just, you know, a little bit of fatigue, a little bit of back,” he said. “Nothing major. But there are a couple of things that have surfaced, so to say, you know, after a match like this.

“We’ll see tomorrow how the body reacts, but I’m confident I can recover and I can be ready for next one.”