Russian title hopes ended at Australian Open
Russia’s remaining hope of men’s title success at the Australian Open came to an end as Karen Khachanov suffered defeat in a four-set battle against Greek rival Stefanos Tsitsipas in their semifinal on Friday.
Khachanov was edged out in the opening set on a tiebreak and lost the second set 4-6 as Tsitsipas took control of the contest at Rod Laver Arena. The Greek also found himself a break up and serving for the match in the third set, before Khachanov threatened a comeback by recapturing the break of serve and winning a tiebreak after saving two match points.
But third seed Tsitsipas again imposed himself in the fourth set with an early break, going on to seal victory 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 in a match spanning three hours and 21 minutes.
For 18th seed Khachanov the result means back-to-back disappointment in Grand Slam semifinals after he lost at the same stage of the US Open in September.
Despite the defeat, the 26-year-old can nonetheless reflect on another strong run at a major tournament, with Khachanov becoming just the tenth active player on the ATP Tour to have reached at least the quarterfinal stage of all four Grand Slams.
Khachanov’s performance will also help his push back towards the world’s top ten, having reached a career-high position of eight in the ATP rankings back in 2019.
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, extended his head-to-head record against Khachanov to 6-0, but more importantly is into a second Grand Slam final of his career.
Awaiting the 24-year-old in Sunday’s showpiece in Melbourne could be Novak Djokovic – the man who defeated Tsitsipas in five sets in his maiden appearance in a Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2021.
Djokovic, a record nine-time Australian Open champion, will be heavily fancied to progress when he plays unseeded American Tommy Paul in the second men’s semifinal later on Friday.
Should fourth seed Djokovic and Tsitsipas meet in the final, it would also be a direct battle between the pair for the world number one spot.