November 4, 2018
So Novak Djokovic was finally downed after 22 wins on the trot. It had to end sometime.
Could the new generation be here at last?
At 22, Karen Khachanov must surely join Zverev, Thiem and the other young pretenders in the big time now.
You don’t beat the world number one 7-5, 6-4 without being pretty good.
‘It means the world to me,’ said the underdog. ‘It’s one of the biggest titles of my career. I couldn’t be happier to end my season this way.’
Khachanov will be announced as the new world 11 this week. The top ten beckons. It is only a matter of time.
True, the great Roger Federer had taken much out of Novak the previous day with that three-set epic.
And the Serb had been suffering from flu-like symptoms all week.
But Djokovic didn’t want to take anything away from his conqueror.
He was broken at 5-5, just as he was against Federer. But to be broken again so early in the second set put the writing on the wall. And this time Djokovic couldn’t come back.
Before this surprising defeat, Djokovic had only been beaten once in 32 matches since the start of Wimbledon.
Everyone is entitled to take their eye off the ball once in a while. Especially when you are not feeling well.
But Djokovic was adamant. No excuses.
‘I don’t feel too good today but I don’t want to talk about that and I’d like to give respect to Karen.
‘I want to talk about how well he played all week and he deserved to win this game today.
‘He is a young player on the rise, already installed at the highest level.
‘He showed a great quality of tennis. I think we will see a lot of Karen in future.’
And there was no reason for Novak to be anything less than generous. He is still in such a good place.
The finals in London are where it is really at. Coming soon.
Djokovic added:’ I’m happy, of course. I will officially be number one worldwide tomorrow (Monday).
‘ How can I ask for more? I won more than 20 games in a row. These past five months have been the most fantastic.
‘I think everything will be fine physically in a week, to start in London.’
If anyone thinks Novak Djokovic is there for the taking, they had better think again.