World number 18 Karen Khachanov has scored his 41st win of the season and the 15th at Masters 1000 level after a solid 7-5 6-2 triumph over the last year's Paris finalist Filip Krajinovic in an hour and 16 minutes. It was a solid match for both but the Russian had a clear advantage in the shortest points to secure the win in straight sets, losing 14 points in 10 service games and fending off two out of three break points he faced.
Filip led 5-3 in the opener and he wasted a set point in the 10th game to lose four games in a row, never managing to recover from that downfall and ending his campaign already in the first round and loss a huge 625 points he earned here 12 months ago.
The Serb lost more than 40% of the points in his games and he suffered four breaks from eight chances he gave to Karen, ending another injury-plagued season and hoping for much better results in 2019. Krajinovic earned a break in the very first game of the match when Karen's forehand landed miles beyond the baseline, with two more break points for the Serb in the fifth game.
Khachanov fends them off with winners from a volley and a backhand and this gave him the momentum to push even harder in the rest of the set. Serving for the set at 5-4, Filip wasted a set point when Karen forced an error from him and the Russian broke back after a foot fault from Krajinovic that crashed his focus and drive.
Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Filip gave Karen four set points and the Russian converted the last one to steal the set 7-5 in 47 minutes and coming from a verge of defeat. Both players served well in the first five games of the second set and Khachanov found the way to score a break for a 4-2, winning four points in a row and securing a break after a poor volley from Krajinovic at the net.
The Russian completed the win with another break in game eight when Filip's forehand finished in the net and he will now face a lucky loser Matthew Ebden in the second round on Tuesday. Nikoloz Basilashvili has enjoyed a great season so far and he claimed the 29th win in 2018 when John Millman was forced to retire after losing the opening set 6-4. They traded breaks in games one and four and Nikoloz converted the fourth break point in game seven to secure another break.
Millman struggled more and more and he was forced to retire after the opener, not wanting to risk any serious injury. In one of the longest Masters 1000 matches of the season, the Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez took down the youngster Alex de Minaur 6-7 6-4 7-6 in two hours and 57 minutes after saving two match points in the deciding set tie break! This was the 113th Masters 1000 win for the 37-year-old and he earned it after blasting 19 aces and saving all seven break points he faced.
Alex won just six points less than his opponent and he fought like a lion until the very last point, saving two match points at 4-5 in the third set and creating a 6-4 lead in the breaker before dropping the last four points to end his journey in the opening round and get ready for the NextGen Masters in Milan.
The Aussie faced eight break points and he saved seven of those, getting broken only once in set number two which proved to be the only break of serve in the entire encounter. They both had one break point in the fourth and the fifth games and Alex saved three more at 5-5 before creating two set points on the return in the following game.
Feliciano saved them to set up a tie break but he lost all five points on serve there to drop it 7-4 in just under an hour. De Minaur asked for a medical timeout in the break between two sets with neck troubles but he was able to continue the match, squandering three break points in the fifth game and getting broken at 4-5 after a forehand winner from the Spaniard who secured the decider and extended his chances.
Alex saved two match points at 4-5 to reach the tie break where he opened a 6-4 lead, earning match points of his own but failing to convert any. Lopez rattled off four straight points, converting his third match point at 7-6 to secure the win and notch the 21st triumph of the season. First round results: