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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 April 2019

MWTC: Karen Khachanov set for 'good fight' against Novak Djokovic after crushing win over Dominic Thiem

Russian shifts focus to rematch of clash at Paris Masters final in November, which he won to claim first Masters 1000 title

Russia's Karen Khachanov proved too good for Dominic Thiem as his array of searing ground strokes earned him a 7-6, 6-3 win. Ali Haider / EPA
Russia's Karen Khachanov proved too good for Dominic Thiem as his array of searing ground strokes earned him a 7-6, 6-3 win. Ali Haider / EPA

Karen Khachanov is ready for a "good fight" with Novak Djokovic at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) on Friday, just a month after he shocked the world No 1 to win the Paris Masters.

The Russian enjoyed a winning debut at the tournament in Abu Dhabi on Thursday as he got the better of world No 8 Dominic Thiem 7-6, 6-3 in their quarter-final clash at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City.

He now goes up against Djokovic in the semi-finals and the world No 11 can go into the match with a reasonable amount of confidence against the Serbian.

That is on the back of the 22 year old defeating him 7-5, 6-4 in Paris in November, ending a winning streak of 22 matches for the 14-time major winner that had stretched back to August.

"I just need to prepare," Khachanov said of how he would approach taking on Djokovic, who has never lost a match on court in Zayed Sports City in his previous four visits to the event.

"I mean like tactically and to just see what form I am in now and how he will play.

"It is the beginning of the season. For him it is his first match here, for me it will be my second, I am just looking forward for a good fight and lets see how it goes."

Khachanov is enjoying his time in the UAE and believes the event, in its 11th year, is giving him the perfect environment to prepare for the 2019 season as he bids to break into the top 10 for the first time in his career.

"I think it is good to play this event this year," he added. "This year especially it is a strong event. All the players are high ranked so to test yourself from the first week of the year is great.

"Today I played Dominic, who is No 8 in the world, tomorrow against Novak, it is just a positive."

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More on MWTC:

Kevin Anderson sets up Rafael Nadal clash after tough win over Hyeon Chung in Abu Dhabi

MWTC: Complete player guide as Djokovic, Nadal and Serena Williams head to Abu Dhabi

Thiem aiming to continue great form in 2018 at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship

The Serena Williams interview: Taking on older sister Venus is 'the ultimate rivalry'

Rafael Nadal ready to get 'best preparation' for 2019 season at Mubadala event

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Dominic Thiem will also be back in action on Friday, taking on Hyeon Chung in the fifth-place play-off. Suhaib Salem / Reuters
Dominic Thiem will also be back in action on Friday, taking on Hyeon Chung in the fifth-place play-off. Suhaib Salem / Reuters

The match with Thiem proved to be an entertaining affair, with Khachanov taking centre stage after an unpredictable first set.

Both players were broken twice, but Khachanov dominated the tie-break as he won it 7-3.

A break at the start of the second set ensured there was no way back for the Austrian as Khachanov served strongly, losing only three points on his own service as he served the match out.

Khachanov believed the conditions had helped him to the success.

Asked what had helped him triumph, he said: "The surface is pretty fast and the balls are flying more here so I would say the serve and as soon as the guy [Thiem] was more inside the court I was hitting more aggressive and was winning more points."

Thiem will also be back in action on Friday, taking on Hyeon Chung, who lost to Kevin Anderson in the other quarter-final, in the fifth-place play-off, which starts the day's action at 3pm.

Updated: December 27, 2018 09:38 PM

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