US Open: Alex De Minaur survives Khachanov in five sets
Alex de Minaur survived the five-set thriller | Photo: Mike Lawrence

21st seed Alex De Minaur advanced into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for just the second time in his career, replicating his result at the US Open from last year. The Australian stunned the higher-ranked Karen Khachanov, who is still looking for his first second-week appearance in Flushing Meadows, in five sets after a mid-match slump.

In this match littered with various momentum shifts which made it difficult to anticipate what will happen next, it was De Minaur who had to recover from a bagel defeat to prevail 6-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 despite not playing his best tennis. Handling the pace of Khachanov’s shots well, the Australian’s patience had its dividends as he hit just 50 unforced errors, significantly lower than his opponent’s 64.

De Minaur will next face the surprise package in Vasek Pospisil, who upset eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round. The 21st seed will favour his chances of progressing into a Major quarterfinal for the first time in his career, but nothing can be taken for granted.

It was the first meeting between de Minaur and Khachanov | Photo: Rhea Nall
It was the first meeting between de Minaur and Khachanov | Photo: Rhea Nall

De Minaur soars to the first set amidst a hiccup

After a pair of comfortable routine service holds to start the encounter on Court 5, it was Khachanov who could barely find the court as unforced errors sprayed from his side of the court. The Russian was the more aggressive player, but it backfired as De Minaur took full advantage to open a commanding 4-1 lead within a blink of an eye.

Serving brilliantly and extending the rallies to further his advantage, De Minaur quickly found himself serving for the set at 5-3, but it is often during the trickiest moments when experience proves its worth. Khachanov knew trouble was coming but remained calm, while the Australian showed signs of inconsistency for the first time in the afternoon to hand over his advantage.

Alex de Minaur was in fine form to start the match | Photo: Adam Glanzman
Alex de Minaur was in fine form to start the match | Photo: Adam Glanzman

Despite earning the hard-fought break back, Khachanov did not cherish his chances as four consecutive errors conceded the opening set 4-6 to De Minaur, who was the much better player on the court in the early stages.

Khachanov fights back in style

Surprisingly, the match experienced yet another momentum shift and Khachanov drew the first blood by capitalising on a De Minaur double fault on break point in the opening game of the second frame. This time, he was able to consolidate his break and earn the two-game cushion as he started to find proper depth with his groundstrokes.

Things turned from bad to worse for the 21st seed, with the 11th seed firing on all cylinders and producing a big backhand winner to claim the double-break lead. From there, the Russian did not look back and prevailed in two marathon games to seal the bagel. Not only this sealed the comeback, but the one-sided scoreline also gave him a mental edge ahead of the third set.

Karen Khachanov roared back into contention with two impressive sets | Photo: Mike Lawrence
Karen Khachanov roared back into contention with two impressive sets | Photo: Mike Lawrence

Riding on her momentum and confidence, Khachanov started the fourth set in the manner he would have hoped for. The early break was crucial as he was forced to hold onto the lead through the remainder of the set, despite strong challenges from De Minaur to erase the deficit. The match seemed headed towards a clear direction — with the Australian unable to find his rhythm while Khachanov was simply too good.

De Minaur fights back, seals the huge comeback win

This year’s US Open seems to be filled with stories of amazing comebacks, and De Minaur was determined to be part of the list. Khachanov was a shadow of himself in the fourth set, missing routine shots only to see de Minaur gaining the confidence and allowing him to start controlling the proceedings.

The sole break in the set arrived in the second game and De Minaur was quick to slam the comeback door shut, having saved a break point with an unreturnable serve to silence the Russian. It was not the typical men’s tennis match you will see on a daily basis, with multiple momentum shifts and many lengthy rallies. Lacking patience was a blow to Khachanov as he committed many unforced errors — as opposed to De Minaur, who was willing to grind out the rallies.

Alex de Minaur will next face Vasek Pospisil in the fourth round | Photo: Mike Lawrence
Alex de Minaur will next face Vasek Pospisil in the fourth round | Photo: Mike Lawrence

The last two sets were one-way traffic for De Minaur, who did not concede a service game while breaking serve on three occasions. Khachanov’s confidence left him in the decider, along with his famous powerful forehands as his game collapsed while facing the pressure. Often opting to rush into the net to close out the matches, his volleying skills backfired as De Minaur faced no troubles at all, closing out the huge 6-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win after just three hours of action.

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