du Tuesday 29 Octobre 2019 at 19h00 au Tuesday 29 Octobre 2019 at 20h30
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Finalist Karen Khachanov believes he can be the first Russian to win the Rolex Paris Masters since his childhood hero Marat Safin

Karen Khachanov has heard the comparison so often now that he can’t help teasing those who want to pigeon hole him as being “the new Marat Safin.”

After powering into his first Masters final in Bercy on Saturday, of course the likeable 22-year-old was in a good mood when the subject of his childhood idol came up.

“You are the next Marat, no?” he was asked.

To which, he couldn’t help but reply to his good-natured interrogator: “I would have to ask you. I don't know. What do you think?”, before adding cheerfullly: “Okay, I agree!”

Well, of course, he was happy to agree. Marat was his hero. What Moscow boy wouldn’t want to grow up to be a mighty world No.1 tennis player who has plenty of character, bags of charm, and a big, big game. What’s not to like?

“He was my favourite tennis player,” Khachanov explained here. “But I still need to work more to be where he was. I mean, he was No.1 in the world. Still I'm not No.1, there’s still a long way to achieve what he did. But, hopefully, it will be.”

And maybe it can all start here. Safin always loved playing this tournament, winning three times in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Now, as Khachanov faces Novak Djokovic in today’s final, he has the chance to become the first Russian since Safin to lift the title.

Of course, in truth, the pair are very different characters. After all, how could there ever be another Marat, the explosive, moody and magnificent racket-pulverising character who was one of the great personalities in modern tennis?
Khachanov is much more of a dedicated trainer and harder worker than Safin would have ever pretended to be. Maybe Safin played chess like Khachanov does, but it’s doubtful Marat ever got round much to pondering pawn sacrifice strategies in his Moscow nightclubbing days.

And yet, there are similarities. Off the court, you can sense that Khachanov possesses real charisma, just like Marat. On it, he shares the uncomplicated power game that can overwhelm opponents, just like Marat.

Now perhaps it’s time too for him to win a Paris Masters title - just like Marat.

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