On Sunday I reflected on the lack of strength in depth on the men’s tour once the Big Four finally bid farewell.
In his Paris Masters victory over the all-conquering Novak on Sunday Karin Khachanov added himself into the fray. The 21 year old Russian was good enough to be mentioned before this milestone, but it was the manner and the circumstances of his win that mean so much.
Djokovic is back to his best no question, so anyone who snaps a winning streak (22 matches this time) has to have something special.
One could argue that the truly memorable SF with Roger a day earlier caused Djokovic to tire (just like the DelPo SF had done at Wimbledon 2013), but I’m not convinced.
Yes, there was an element of underestimation, but simply put: Khachanov played with a fearlessness and crucially had the defensive game to prevail.
Anyone can try and blast their opponents of court (Rosol and Del Potro really), but against Novak this rarely works.
It’s one victory (albeit one preceded by an equally impressive win over Zverev), so we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves here.
As after every break out tournament, Khachanov’s real test now is the next 12 months.