TOKYO (Reuters) – A pumped Karen Khachanov of the Russian Olympic Committee charged into the Olympic men’s singles final on Friday with a comprehensive 6-3 6-3 win over Pablo Carreno Busta.
The 25-year-old, who made the Wimbledon quarter-final this month, outgunned the Spaniard – ranked 14 places higher at number 11 – in one hour and 19 minutes on Center Court.
Khachanov, who will play either world number one Novak Djokovic or fifth-ranked German Alexander Zverev in the gold medal match, described the match as a highlight of a memorable summer.
“I play tennis for those moments, I practice for these kind of matches and you know, when you get there, when it’s paying off, it’s just a pure pleasure to be here…,” he said.
“(It’s) the kind of memories that will stay forever.”
Khachanov came out with all guns blazing, breaking the Spaniard’s serve twice and striking 12 winners to just four unforced errors in the first set.
Carreno Busta, who had upset world number two Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals, had no answer to the Russian’s big hitting, falling a break down midway through the second set before Khachanov sealed the victory with a forehand winner.
“It was not the best match today,” said Carreno Busta.
“Karen played unbelievable today, playing very aggressively, serving really good. I didn’t feel comfortable on court.”
“…I will have another opportunity to win a medal so also it’s an important role for me. So I need to be 100% again to play tomorrow.”
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; editing by John Stonestreet)