The 23-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov arrived in Paris with some dark clouds of doubt over his head, scoring ten wins in 2019 and playing in one quarter-final at Indian Wells. Paris Masters champion has brought back his excellent tennis in the French capital, defeating Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and nine minutes to advance into the first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Also, Karen will make a top-10 debut next Monday as the first player born in 1996 and the third from the young generation after Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The last year's semi-finalist del Potro couldn't repeat that run, struggling with the physical shape and losing steam required for grueling battles on clay one round after another.
The Argentine struggled on the second serve and gave serve away four times from 13 chances offered to Karen who saved seven out of nine break points to cross the finish line first and achieve two nice milestones, setting the quarter-final clash with Dominic Thiem.
With 58 winners and 38 unforced errors on his tally, Karen was the leading figure on the court, enduring all the efforts and attacks from the other side of the net to leave Juan Martin on 42 winners and 48 mistakes and secure the place in the next round.
The opening set lasted for almost an hour and it was the youngster who repelled five break points in games five and 11 before stealing a break at 6-5 for a promising start. Juan Martin won only five points on the return in set number two, creating no break points and allowing Karen to grab 12 of the first 14 points, enough to control the scoreboard and clinch the set 6-3, making another big step towards the quarter.
Trying his best to give the crowd something to cheer about, del Potro broke twice in the third set and saved three break chances in games seven and nine, completing the set and hoping for more of the same in set number four.
Nonetheless, Khachanov had some other plans, though, breaking early and serving well until the end of the match, creating four more break points that could have confirmed his triumph. Del Potro managed to save them but he never produced the opportunity on the return after the first game, letting Khachanov over the top in the ninth game and losing points to drop out from the top-10.