Jonkoping, Sweden, €42,500+H (Indoor Hard) : In one of the most thrilling Challenger finals of the season, Andrey Golubev has won his 7th title of this level, saving 4 match points against young Russian Karen Khachanov! It was a grueling match from the very first game and the Russian has missed huge chance to win his second Challenger title and come even closer to the Top 100 place, but it just wasn't to be for him.
The first game of the match was simultaneously the longest in the entire match, with Karen saving 4 break points before he finally held. After that both players have settled into a nice rhythm, keeping their service easily until the tie break.
It turned out to be a real cracker of a tie break, with Golubev winning it 11-9! He led 4-0 and 5-2 before Karen started to come back, leveling the score at 5-5. That's when the real drama started, with 2 set points for each on return, when Karen finally made another mini break for 10-9 and sealed the set on own serve, after an unforced error from Golubev.
Khachanov has struggled to find the first serve in the second set, and Golubev pushed him on return every time he would miss it. Russian saved a break point in game 6 after 12 shots rally, and he got a chance on the return in the 9th game that he waited for.
He wasted 3 break points and Golubev in the end held after 4 deuces to go 5-4 in front. Karen recovered quickly, leveling at 5-5 after love service game, and he was ready to put some more pressure on his rival's serve in the next game.
This time, he needed just one opportunity to make the first break of the match, when Golubev sent the forehand long. Thus, Karen served for the match in game 12, and for his second Challenger title. It looked it is the done deal when he went 40-15 in front, but Golubev saved the first match point with a nice forehand winner, and the other after Karen's costly double fault.
He had the third match point but Andrey fends off that one as well, taking the 11 shots rally that ends with Karen's netted backhand. Golubev was rewarded instantly, with break point that he converted after Karen sent a forehand long.
It was time for the second tie break, that also get to 5-5. Golubev made a mini break after one of the best points in the match and he finished the set with a service winner. Khachanov was, of course, furious after all the chances he had, but he was not letting the title without an additional fight.
In the third set the Russian faced the same problems like in the second, but this time he served even worse, with only 38% of the first serve in! Golubev lost his serve in the second game, following the backhand he sent wide.
Karen was in a nice rhythm on serve, no matter he struggled to find the first, and he served for the match at 5-3. Even that wasn't enough to clinch the victory, Golubev broke back at 15 with a nice forehand winner, surviving another scare.
Khachanov went 6-5 in front with very important love service game, and Golubev served to stay in the match. He saved a 4th match point at 30-40, again playing brave and attacking with his forehand, leaving this incredible clash into the third set tie break.
On 3-3 Golubev stepped in and took 4 of the last 5 points, finishing the match with nice service&forehand combination. Final result : Andrey Golubev (KAZ) vs Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-7(9) 7-6(5) 7-6(4) [2:44] ALSO READ: Andrey Rublev, CiCi Bellis, Sofya Zhuk and other youngsters grab Miami Wild-cards