WATCH—Court Report from November 27th:
Following breakthrough seasons in 2018, Karen Khachanov and Borna Coric are at the forefront of a crop of young stars on the brink of breaking the Top 10 for the first time.
Khachanov finished at No. 11 in the year-end rankings this week after an incredible surge in the second half of the 2018 season. Going into the summer he had never even been in the Top 30, but after reaching his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Canada and then going all the way to win his first Masters 1000 title in Paris—among other deep runs—he’s now just one spot outside of the Top 10.
The Russian beat four Top 10 players in his last four matches in Paris, the last three of them being the biggest wins of his career: Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.
“After some tough losses against top guys—like Rafael Nadal in New York—they pushed me to the limit and made me want to work even harder,” Khachanov said after winning in Paris. “I saw that my level was there, and I could play and compete on this level. It was a matter of just a few points. I knew if I kept doing what I was doing, it would turn around. I was really believing in this, and that’s what happened.”
Khachanov has a great opportunity to break the Top 10 early in 2019. He’s only 320 ranking points behind No. 10 John Isner (3,155 to 2,835) and he only has 135 points to defend until late February.
“I have to continue to work the same way,” the Russian said. “It’s not like I’ll do something completely different. If I’m No. 11 this year, I have to do the same or even better to go higher next year.”
Right behind Khachanov is Coric, who started the year at No. 48 but finished No. 12, his biggest results being his first Masters 1000 semifinal at Indian Wells, his first Masters 1000 final at Shanghai and the biggest title of his career at the 500-level event in Halle (where he beat Roger Federer).
The 22-year-old was also part of the Davis Cup-winning Croatian team this past weekend.
“My main goal at the beginning of the year was to be a Top 20 player by the end of the year,” Coric said. “I was around No. 20 or No. 21 before Shanghai, and I was happy with it, but then this thing happened in Shanghai. I really don’t know how. I thought I was going to retire in the first round.”
Coric is further away from the Top 10—he’s actually 355 ranking points behind No. 11 Khachanov, and 675 behind No. 10 Isner—but he’s only defending 145 points in the first two months of the season.