By Shrivathsa Sridhar
PARIS (Reuters) – Karen Khachanov said he will head home following his French Open quarter-final defeat by Novak Djokovic on Tuesday with his head held high after returning to the top 10 in the world.
The 11th-seeded Russian won the first set of his match with the twice Roland Garros winner but failed to make his advantage count, surrendering the tight second set tamely in a tiebreak before being blown away by the Serbian.
Khachanov, 27, will now move back into the top 10 for the first time since October 2019 when he was number eight.
“Obviously a lot of positives. There are no regrets. Yeah, another good performance in a Grand Slam,” said Khachanov, who reached last year’s U.S. Open semi-finals before a run to the Australian Open last four in January.
“Obviously I have been saying for a few years that my goal was to return to the top 10. It’s not the ultimate goal, but still, it’s good to have it.
“I’m going back home, to be honest, with my head high.”
Djokovic’s second-set tiebreak proved the turning point of the contest and Khachanov said he was unable to turn it around from there despite playing his best tennis against the world number three.
“Every time it’s a different story and a different match. Today I’d say I was close again. It was really the closest out of the last matches we have played,” said Khachanov, who has only one victory in 10 meetings with Djokovic.
“In a Grand Slam it makes a difference, because it’s best of five and I pulled it to play four sets. Though I had a chance to take a 2-0 lead, the first two sets, I was feeling that I was pushing him much more than the second part of the match.
“It always feels like he finds a way to make you (get) into the trouble. He’s always there, always pushing. At one point if you don’t cross him it becomes tougher and tougher.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Paris; Editing by Toby Davis)
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