The final men's quarterfinal spot at the French Open was up for grabs on Court Suzanne Lenglen as Karen Khachanov squared off with Juan Martin Del Potro. In the end, the tenth-seeded Russian scored his first career victory against the eighth-seeded Argentine, winning 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours, nine minutes to set up a last eight meeting with 2018 runner-up Dominic Thiem.
Khachanov gained entry into a quarterfinal of a major at the fourth time of asking while also guaranteeing himself a spot in the top ten when the new rankings are out on Monday. The Russian outhit Del Potro, blasting 58 winners to the Argentine's 42 while only committing 35 unforced errors to Del Potro's 48.
Khachanov outmuscles Del Potro to claim victory
The battle of 6'6" giants started out with the server dictating play until Del Potro held three break points in the fifth game, which he was unable to convert. Holding rather comfortably, the Argentine had two further chances only to be denied by aces on both occasions. Those chances would come back to haunt the eighth seed.
Facing a break point, which was also a set point, for the first time, Del Potro netted a backhand to give Khachanov the opening set. The Russian carried that momentum through to the beginning of the second set as he ripped off the first 11 points to take a 3-0 lead. He had two chances to claim a double break lead, but Del Potro's serve bailed him out of trouble.
Neither man had a sniff on serve the rest of the set and Khachanov stepped to the line to serve for a two set lead. He did so easily, racing to a love hold and clinching the set when Del Potro again missed on a backhand. The eighth seed was quick out of the gate in the third set, holding to 30 and finally converting on sixth break chance with a smash that he thought had gone long.
Khachanov immediately broke back, but he was in immediate danger as Del Potro finally found a backhand winner that brought up triple break point, taken at the first time of asking when the Russian's shot down the line drifted wide. The Argentine then fended off two break points with trademark forehands to hold for 5-2.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Khachanov had yet another break opportunity when Del Potro attempted an ill-advised drop shot. Erased when the tenth seed missed on a backhand, the former US Open champion blasted down two first serves to close out the set and cut Khachanov's lead in half.
Receiving eye drops before the start of the fourth set, Del Potro creates two break points on the Khachanov serve to open up the fourth set, but fails to convert on either. A double fault in his own service game brings up 0-40, taken when the Russian smacks a return winner to go ahead 2-0.
Del Potro saved two more break chances in the fourth and sixth games to keep in touch, but was unable to generate any more opportunities, deuce in the seventh game the farthest he would progress in the fourth set as Khachanov stood a game away from a career-defining victory.
Finally holding with ease, Del Potro had one more go at the Russian as he served for the match at 5-3 and a forehand winner that clipped the line and a long baseline exchange that went in his favor put the Argentine at 15-30. After a big serve, the eighth seed fired a crosscourt wide to bring up match point, Khachanov serving up an ace to close out an impressive victory.