The 4th seed Karen Khachanov is off to a winning start at home in St. Petersburg, beating James Duckworth 6-4, 6-4. The Russian will face a compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the second round, hoping for another reliable performance at the home event following the fourth round run at Roland Garros.
In Paris, Karen lost to world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets despite a solid effort, keeping the 17-time Major champion on the court for almost two and a half hours. Asked about the actual GOAT race, Karen said that Rafael Nadal should win the most Majors, picking the Spaniard even though Novak Djokovic is younger and in better shape.
Many people believe Djokovic will catch and pass both Federer and Nadal in the upcoming years, playing on a higher level than the greatest rivals and standing a chance at all four Majors, especially outside Paris. In their 56th Tour meeting, Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday at Roland Garros, lifting the 20th Major trophy and matching Roger Federer's record.
It was the 100th victory for Rafa in Paris from 102 encounters, extending his dominance at the clay Major after winning the 13th title from 16 appearances in Paris. Having to deal with cold and rainy October weather, new Wilson balls and a roof over Court Philippe-Chatrier, Nadal passed all the obstacles to claim the title without losing a set at 34.
Suffering only eight breaks in seven encounters, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits on the return and enduring three tight sets against Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Novak Djokovic to wrap up the tournament in a perfect manner.
Karen Khachanov puts Rafael Nadal ahead of Novak Djokovic in GOAT race.
Rafa had to be aggressive and focused against Djokovic, doing everything right on the court and leaving the opponent far behind in the opening two sets.
The Spaniard finished the match with 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely from both wings and stealing 51% of the return points to forge the crucial difference. Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors, finding his level only after two hours and hitting the exit door despite a solid effort in set number three.
Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable and relaxed on the court, doing almost nothing on the return and having no idea how to outplay Rafa in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage.
"I believe Rafael Nadal will finish his career with most Major titles. Novak Djokovic is younger, and many are betting on him in the GOAT race, but my first pick is Rafael Nadal," Karen Khachanov said.