Karen Khachanov on Tuesday downed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the ongoing Miami Open. Khachanov has now reached the quarter-finals in four of the six tour-level events he has played this year.
In a first set that was primarily decided by serves, Khachanov saved two Tsitsipas break points while failing to generate a single one of his own. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old was rewarded for his perseverance as he forced Tsitsipas into a string of backhand errors to win the tie-break. Gaining the lead seems to have further energised Khachanov, whose accurate serving gave Tsitsipas, the third-ranked player in the world, few chances to settle into rallies on the return. Khachanov had no signs of nervousness as he finished off his triumph after successfully breaking Tsitsipas’ serve to love in the fifth set. He had won 89 per cent (39/44) of the points behind his first delivery.
“They say third time is a charm, but for me it took seven times, so I’m super happy. 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,” ATP.com quoted Khachanov as saying. “I just want to continue that way, enjoy the process, and enjoy the journey. It continues,” he added.
“I think [restricting Tsitsipas] was the key. 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 aggressively, so whoever took the chance first got the win,” said Khachanov. Khachanov’s run to his maiden quarter-final in Miami has lifted him two spots to No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.