The 2018 Paris Masters final will feature a player who will be ranked world number one on Monday against a first-time finalist at an ATP Masters 1000 event.
After a week of sensational play, Novak Djokovic and Russia’s Karen Khachanov will square off for the Paris Masters title on Sunday. And make no mistake about this, Karen Khachanov is not a surprise finalist, but a credible title contender who has been building impressive momentum all season.
Both men have had the week of a lifetime in Paris. The 22-year-old Khachanov ticked through his section of the draws incredibly, losing just a set- to John Isner in the round of 16. He then notably went past fourth seed, Alexander Zverev in straight sets and then scored a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 victory in the semifinals over sixth seed Dominic Thiem in just 70 minutes. Performances that have underlined his resolve and budding ruthlessness.
He will, however, face the toughest of tests in Novak Djokovic in what will be the biggest match of his career.
Novak Djokovic has been on a roll since his Wimbledon triumph in July. The Serb has racked up 31 wins in his last 32 matches; he’s on a 21-match winning streak and is set to play in his fourth consecutive final. His exploits in four stunning months have seen him rise from No.22 to No.1 in the world.
In Paris this week, save his second and third round matches, where he went through easily, Djokovic was made to work for the win in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Against fifth seed, Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, Djokovic recovered from a first set loss to power through in three. In the semifinals against Federer, which was an epic show of peerless tennis, Djokovic came through in three tight sets, edging the Swiss in a final set tie-break to win 7-6, 5-7, 7-6.
He is now a win away from a record-extending fifth Paris Masters crown and record-equalling 33 ATP Masters 1000 title (a record Rafael Nadal holds). Can Khachanov, who won the Kremlin Cup two weeks ago, ensure Djokovic doesn’t achieve those feats?
Both men have met just once- at this year’s Wimbledon where Djokovic dismissed the Russian 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in a rather routine match in the round of 16. Can the Serb grind out another win over the Russian and claim his third straight ATP Masters 1000 title, or will Khachanov, who has beaten three top 10 players this week, cause a major upset by adding Djokovic to his list of casualties and win his biggest career title?
I fancy this match going three ways:
First, a win for Novak Djokovic — at 1.13 on Wakabet.
All indications point to a Djokovic victory as Khachanov doesn’t have the experience, years or resume to topple the Serb. Yes, both of them are in great form, but Djokovic is currently on a different level. The Serb has racked up 22 wins on the trot and is set to become number one on Monday. Also, his style of play, which has arguably the most formidable defence the sport has seen, is designed to repel Khachanov’s heavy hitting.
1.13 for the win is quite low, but you can still go for it.
Second, a straight-set victory for Djokovic — that is, 2 sets at 1.42 on Wakabet.
Given their present form, this will be close, but Djokovic should be able to finish this off in straight sets. 1.42 is higher and also a good pick!
Thirdly, over 21.5 games at 1.72
Barring a major upset, Khachanov will not go down without a fight. His powerful serves and groundstrokes could cause problems for Djokovic and he could get his own fair share of games. I, however, don’t think it will be enough, but the Russian should make the encounter a closely-contested one.
This match is live on Centre Court at the AccorHotels Arena from 3:00pm Nigerian time.