PARIS (Reuters) – Karen Khachanov showed why he is one of the finest young talents in tennis as he powered into the final of the Paris Masters with a thunderous 6-4 6-1 victory over Dominic Thiem on Saturday.
The 22-year-old, 6ft 6in Russian, already the owner of two indoor hard court titles this year, moved one step away from the biggest title of his career at the Bercy indoor arena, crushing his Austrian friend in 70 one-sided minutes.
Khachanov will now play his first Masters 1000 final on Sunday against the winner of the blockbuster second semi between Novak Djokovic, who will be back to world number one on Monday, and Roger Federer, who is seeking a 100th career title.
“It was one of my best matches, and what I’m happy about is that I was increasing my level, which shows that I’m becoming a better player,” Khachanov said.
The 18th ranked Muscovite overpowered a third top-10 player in successive days, having hammered Alexander Zverev in the quarters and negotiated John Isner’s huge serves in the last-16.
Thiem, the world number eight who on Friday had booked his place in the ATP Finals, was out of sorts and seemed discomfited from the start by the depth and power of the groundstrokes he has seen so often from his regular practice partner.
Remarkably, the Austrian saw his powerful serve broken five times in a row by Khachanov at the end of the first set and throughout a surprisingly one-sided second.
“It was really intense the first couple of games and at 4-4, when there was more pressure coming, I broke him and took the lead,” said Khachanov.
Asked about the great player that he will meet in the final, he smiled and said: “I’m going to watch (Federer-Djokovic) definitely and any scenario is good for me.”
It was a hugely disappointing day for 25-year-old Thiem, who had reached the French Open final in Paris in June but who is still searching for the first Masters title his talent merits.
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris