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Krajinovic reaps rewards in Paris of cool head during injury setbacks

Filip Krajinovic came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the final at the Paris Masters.
Filip Krajinovic came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the final at the Paris Masters. Reuters/Charles Platiau

Paris Masters finalist Felip Krajinovic revealed on Saturday that staying calm during his injury hit career had been the key to his remarkable resurgence up the rankings.

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The 25-year-old Serb has enjoyed a sensational run to Sunday’s final at the Accor Hotels Arena in Bercy where he will take on the 16th seed Jack Sock.

Rated at 239 in the world in January 2017, Krajinovic stood at 77th place when he entered the qualifying tournament on 28 October for the Paris Masters.

He successfully negotiated two matches in that event to advance to the first round of the 64 man main draw which started on 30 October.

After beating the 38th ranked Yuichi Sugita in the first round, Krajinovic dispatched the 10th seed Sam Querrey 6-4 6-4 in the last 32 and then overpowered the experienced Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4 6-1 in the last 16.

His fairytale in Paris was enhanced with a stroke of fortune when top seed Rafael Nadal pulled out of their last eight clash on Friday citing problems with his knees.

Reprieved from confronting the world number one, Krajinovic edged past ninth seed John Isner in three sets in his semi-final on Saturday to reach his first final at a Masters event which, with 1000 ranking points on offer, are considered the most prestigious tournaments after the four Grand Slams in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York.

“I stayed calm during those tough moments when I was injured,” said Krajinovic. “I knew that one day I would come back. I did not believe it would be this year at this tournament. It’s an amazing feeling. Now I’ll be in the top 40. I didn’t expect that. My goal was to be top 100. I’m very happy.”

Krajinovic’s first injury setback came in 2010 - two years into his professional career - when he had surgery on his right shoulder. That led to two years away from the courts.

But during the exile there was support from the Serbian number one Novak Djokovic. “All the players in the Serbia Davis Cup team are close on and off the court. Novak would always help,” said Krajinovic.

“He always offers help and we are always talking. He is our hero in back in Serbia. It’s an honour to have support from him.”

Just after breaching the top 100, he suffered another injury setback 18 months ago when doctors told him he needed to have an extra bone removed from his right wrist.

“It was hard and mentally very tough going through those injuries after getting back into the top 100 and also because the sponsors were starting to fall away because although I was a good junior, I wasn’t doing anything as a pro. But I had the support of my family and now I’m in the final in Paris.”

Krajinovic will earn 853,430 euros if he prevails over Sock on Sunday. He will take away 418,450 if he loses.

“I’m going to give my best in the final,” said Krajinovic. “I know Jack from the juniors. He’s a great player. It is going to be an interesting match.”

 

 

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