That was "Russian Rock ´n´ Roll“! Karen Khachnov has got to the Semifinals by winning the duel of the Russian "NextGen“-stars. In an intensive match with a lot of speedy baseline duels the 21 year-old was able to beat his two-year-younger compratriot Andrey Rublev 7:6 (8), 4:6 and 6:4.
The first Quarterfinal at the 25th GERRY WEBER OPEN was a duel of true friends, but who weren't giving anything away in the compition. Rublev and Khachanov have known eachother since they were ten years old, both train in Barcelona and spend lots of time on and off the court together. "There will be no secrets. We will do our best", Rublev announced and should keep word. From the beginning the two Russians celebrated power-tennis at its best and played with much pull from the baseline. Khachanov was able to show slightly more power, his opponant showed more control. Twice Khachanov wasn't able to get his serving match, before then converting a set point in an exciting tie-break 10:8 – alone for this set the "NextGen"-stars needed 62 minutes.
Leading one set didn't mean it was safe for Khachanov, though, for Rublevs fighting spirit had been wakened. The 19 year-old wildcard-starter attacked especially the second service of his compratriot with much more energy, treated himself to a quick break and took Khachanovs' service again for the second time. When the world's no. 38 started fighting back in the ending phase of the set, it was too late - in his second attempt Rublev did the 6:4 serving and thereby balanced the set.
In the third set, too, the "Russian Disco" provided a lot of music, and it was getting louder! Again Rublev got to a better start. Khachanov was lacking calmness in the deciding moments and the favourites number of faults - in world ranking Khachanov is 68 places in front of his friend - n entscheidenden Moment häufig die Ruhe und auch die Fehlerquote des Favoriten – in der Weltrangliste stehe Khachanov 68 Plätze vor seinem Freund - got higher. But Rublevs break to 2:1 was only the starter into an exciting round of deciders. Khachanov answered quickly and had the better nerves in the end. Rublev practically gave away the eighth game with a true series of faults and then it was over! With a service-winner Karen Khachanov forced himself into his first Semifinals at a 500-tournament, in spite of 50 errors, in the end with the score being 6:4.
"We are good friends and it was difficult playing against him. I had to stay focussed and to play point for point. Luckily, that worked out well", Khachanov jubilated after on of the biggest successes so far in his career. By winning over Rublev Khachanov will be amoungst the best 35 tennis players in the world on Monday.