On Friday, Karen Khachanov led Dan Evans by a set and 4-2 in their quarterfinal meeting at Antwerp’s European Open, only to see the contest and control of his emotions slip away in a match Evans described at one point as an [expletive] circus.
The clash was heated from the start, with both players voicing their displeasure with chair umpire Adel Nour. Though Khachanov lost his advantage and slammed down his racquet in the eighth game of the second set, he still managed to arrive at match point in the eventual tiebreaker.
But after Evans erased it with a well-placed serve down the T to reach 6-6, his save under pressure soon shifted to a footnote when Khachanov completely lost his cool.
At 7-7, Khachanov believed his opponent’s inside-out forehand landed wide. As he went to fist pump, the No. 3 seed noticed no call was made and immediately reacted in despair.
A long argument with Nour followed, with Khachanov questioning his capabilities.
“You don’t need to be here. It’s a joke,” he said.
Evans would clinch the set on the ensuing point and before crossing the net, he watched as Khachanov channeled a David Nalbandian meets Karolina Pliskova act of frustration through kicking a sponsor sign and swatting the umpire's chair with his racquet.
Khachanov walked off the court and was implored to return by Nour after leaving without permission.
“Don’t talk to me anymore. I don’t want to hear from you,” Khachanov said.
The Russian ultimately received an unsportsmanlike conduct warning. He went down an immediate break to begin the third set and Evans would go on the close out the feisty contest with a love hold after two hours and 40 minutes, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4. Congratulations to the winner, but the takeaway was Karen.