Tennis  

Khachanov wins historic Kremlin Cup

Russia’s Karen Khachanov returns a ball to France’s Adrian Mannarino during the Kremlin Cup tennis tournament men’s singles final match in Moscow on October 21, 2018. Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

Karen Khachanov made it a double celebration for host nation when he defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6/2; 6/2 in a one-sided match that did not diminish the greater symbolism of the feat.

The final before the final was in the previous round where Karen outlasted his friend and compatriot, Daniil Medvedev. The two pals have reached the pattern of exchanging the top ranking in Russia.

Karen came into the Moscow tournament ranked 23 in the world while Daniil had moved up to 22 thanks to his victory in the 500-point Tokyo title. Following this victory on home soil, Karen moved up points to 15, in rankings released on Monday. For her victory, Daria Kasatkina moved to number 10, as the first time in that echelon.

The double victory makes the event historic. Although Alex Metrevelli won Wimbledon in 1973 (when the money-earning players were not allowed to participate), the USSR had no major tennis event. In the heydays of the Cold War, the idea of a tournament behind the iron curtain was the brainchild of legendary American Davis Cup player, Eugene Larry Scott (1937-2006).

The naming of the vent after The Kremlin was his suggestion and it was embraced by the rulers who were visionary in seeing the ripples of placing the heart of Soviet Power in the minds of people all over the world, albeit through sports.

The first tournament was won by Russian Andrei Chersanov who defended title the following year after which players from other countries interrupted the domination.

However, Alexander Volkov won the title in Russia in 1994, followed by Nicolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev. The great man Yevgeny Kafelnikov won five consecutive years from 1997 to 2001. Other winners over the years were Igor Kunitsyn (2008) and Mikhail Youzny in 2009

The tournament has been the springboard for many great champions including Marat Safin, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova. For the men, it was an ATP World Series event for the first nine years, then an International event from 2000 to 2008 and was made a 250 (Fourth Level) event in 2009.

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