An unlikely final took place between unseeded Kharan Khachanov and Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Chengdu Open.
In 2016, a new tournament was added to the ATP World Tour calendar: the Chengdu Open in China, to be held during the post-US Open “Asia swing.” The inaugural edition featured a strong field headlined by world No. 10 and top seed Dominic Thiem, and Nick Kyrigos—ranked No. 15 and seeded second. However, the seeded player that would advance to the championship was the Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The No. 5 seed eked by third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals to reach his first championship match on a hard court.
On the bottom half of the draw, an even bigger surprise was taking place as the unseeded Russian Karan Khachanov was sending shockwaves through the event. The 20-year-old advanced to the first final of his career with wins against Feliciano Lopez and Viktor Troicki—seeded fourth and sixth, respectively—along the way.
In the first set, it was Ramos-Vinolas that gained an early advantage, by securing a break early on. However, Khachanov was able to rally and force the opening frame into a tiebreak. The Spaniard, having gone a perfect 3-0 during the week in those situations—including winning two against Dimitrov in the semis—extended his winning streak to four to clinch the first set.
The young Russian didn’t buckle and was able to level the match by turning the tables on Ramos-Vinolas in another tiebreak. In the decider, Khachanov went down an early break, but immediately got back on serve to make it 2-2. The two stayed on serve until Khachanov secured a break that left him serving for the match, up 5-3. At 40-15, double match point for Khachanov, the two traded backhands in an extended rally before Ramos-Vinolas struck one long, giving the world No. 101 his first title.
Not only did Khachanov reach his first career final here, but he also advanced to the semifinals of an ATP event for the first time.
Ramos-Vinolas became the fifth different Spaniard to reach a hard-court final during the year.
The last time a Russian male made a singles final before Khachanov’s run was in 2013, when Mikhail Youzhny beat David Ferrer in the Valencia Open championship match.
Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias