Novak Djokovic was gracious in defeat and expressed his pride over “a most amazing last five months” after Karen Khachanov halted his 22-match winning streak to claim Paris Masters glory in a stunning upset on Sunday.
Djokovic was a firm favourite to match Rafael Nadal’s record tally of 33 ATP Masters 1000 titles, but Khachanov outlined his promise by coming from a break down to secure a 7-5 6-4 victory.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was the last man to consign the 14-time grand slam champion to defeat at the Rogers Cup back in August and it was 22-year-old Khachanov striking another blow for youth over experience, claiming the biggest title of his career in Bercy.
Djokovic was full of praise for the Russian, who will move to a career-high 11th in the rankings when the Serbian replaces Nadal as world number one on Monday.
“I want to talk about how well he played all week,” said Djokovic. “He absolutely deserved to win the match today. So all the credit to him, he deserves it.
“He’s a young player, up and coming, but already an established player, a top player. And he showed great quality today and he showed why we’re going to see a lot of him in the future.
“I’m satisfied of course and I’m going to be number one [on Monday] officially. What more can I ask for? I mean, I won 20-plus matches in a row and had a most amazing last five months of the year.”
From #NextGenATP to @RolexPMasters champion
WHAT a year for @karenkhachanov pic.twitter.com/qshwoThxH4
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) November 4, 2018
Khachanov has won all four ATP World Tour title matches he has taken place in and should go into 2019 brimming with confidence.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier to finish the season like this.
“It’s a breakthrough season, this title is a good one. Maybe I’m not crying, but still I’m really happy.”