Karen Khachanov - in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. This became clear after his opponent in the quarterfinal match, American Sebastian Korda, in the middle of the third installment, due to an injury, refused to continue the fight. For reaching the decisive stage of the tournament, the Russian, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open four months ago, will compete with the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who still claims the title of the first racket of the world.
Signs that this semi-final could end early for Karen Khachanov appeared after the end of the fifth game of the second set, when Sebastian Korda took a medical time-out and asked the doctor to apply a tape on his right wrist. By that time, the advantage of the Russian tennis player was already visible, although it could hardly be called obvious. Khachanov, on the whole, played points very well on the first serve and several times, including on the set point of the first game, the draw of which consisted of 17 hits, demonstrated his signature backhand. True, Korda resisted with all his might, otherwise he would not have been able to win back the serve in the tenth game and transfer the end of the first set to a tie-break.
Later, the American will explain what happened.
It turns out that Korda had problems with his wrist at the beginning of the month at a tournament in Adelaide, where he reached the final and almost won Novak Djokovic.
In Melbourne, everything was fine until Tuesday, but at the beginning of the second game of the quarter-finals, he delivered one unsuccessful blow at the reception. “After that, trying to hit on the right, I couldn’t hold the racket properly, and it was simply impossible to play from the summer,” said the debutant of the quarterfinal stage at the Grand Slam tournaments, who, having resumed the meeting after that timeout, could no longer take a single game. True, the speed of Korda's serve decreased slightly, and Khachanov, in order not to give his opponent even a minimal hope for the reality of salvation, needed to remain vigilant. And his reward for this was already the second semi-final in the last four months at the majors, as well as a noticeable rise in the ranking - from 20th place to at least 13th.
Comparing the tournament paths of the Russian in Melbourne and at the US Open, it is easy to find one fundamental difference. In five matches of the current tournament, Khachanov gave up only two games, three and a half times less than in New York. Of course, circumstances helped to some extent - the early departure of Rafael Nadal, who was in the same quarter of the grid, the defeat of Daniil Medvedev from Korda in the third round, and now the injury of the American.
But after all, Khachanov himself, armed with a reserve of confidence that the US Open helped him gain, demonstrates tennis in Australia at the level of the top five in the world rankings. It is no coincidence that he admitted on Tuesday that he "reassembled himself" last fall.
Having spent less than two hours on the court for the second time in a row, Khachanov certainly saved a lot of energy, which is often a key factor in the finish line of Grand Slam tournaments. However, in this case, he is unlikely to play a decisive role, since his opponent in the semi-finals, Stefanos Tsitsipas, also paced the grid quite quickly. To defeat the Italian Yannick Sinner in the fourth round, the Greek, however, needed all five sets, but he defeated the Czech Jiri Legechka, in fact, without spending a single extra minute, in any case, never losing his serve.
Karen Khachanov, of course, will not be the semi-final favorite. He took part in matches of such great importance much less often than Tsitsipas, moreover, he lost all five personal meetings to him. But this, as they say, background. But in terms of the level of tennis shown by the rivals at the current tournament, they are by and large two equal players. And Khachanov has trump cards, with the help of which one can not only systematically get on the nerves of Tsitsipas, but also take him out of his psychological comfort zone. This is a powerful serve, and a crown blow from the left along the line, and the ability to sometimes drag out draws, which can also work against the Greek, who demonstrates a very high-quality game throughout the court.
There have been plenty of examples in recent months when Tsitsipas seemed to look very impressive, but unexpectedly lost at decisive moments.
This season, taking into account the United Cup team tournament, the Greek has already won nine matches in a row and has come close to the title of the first racket of the world, to which only two victories remain. But today's Khachanov, of course, is able to stop him.
1/4 finals Australian Open
Men. Karen Khachanov (Russia, 18) - Sebastian Korda (USA, 29) 7:6 (7:5), 6:3, 3:0, refused. Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece, 3)—Jiri Legechka (Czech Republic) 6:3, 7:6 (7:2), 6:4.
On Wednesday in the 1/4 finals meet: Andrey Rublev (Russia, 5) - Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 4), Ben Shelton (USA) - Tommy Paul (USA).
Women. Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan, 22) - Elena Ostapenko (Latvia, 17) 6:2, 6:4. Victoria Azarenko (Belarus, 24) - Jessica Pegula (USA, 3) 6:4, 6:1.
On Wednesday in the 1/4 finals meet: Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic, 30) - Magda Linett (Poland), Arina Sobolenko (Belarus, 5) - Donna Vekic (Croatia).