Tennis Prose



Is Khachanov the bigger stronger version of Djokovic?

It was a win that sent shockwaves through a sport. Karen Khachanov crushed world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 64 75 with a violent display of superior physical defense and offense. The Russian 22 year old won his first Masters 1000 title in Paris yesterday but he also showed he has the possible solution to solve the Djokovic puzzle.

Khachanov, who has won two titles earlier this year, is coming of age as champion. Yesterday he showed that by beating Djokovic, a red-hot, in-form, almost unbeatable Djokovic, that he too can play world no. 1 level tennis.

There is no reason why Khachanov, if he can continue his evolution and sustain this kind of play that he showed yesterday and all week in Paris, that he cannot one day reign atop the ATP rankings.

Everything is there in the Khachanov arsenal to do it, it’s just a matter of doing it week after week, surface after surface, venue after venue.

The Russian greats seem to have a different mentality than the other elite players in that they do not seem to feel comfortable at the very very top of the sport, doing all the obligatory extra curricular and media activities that is required by a world no. 1. Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin were content to be no. 1 for shorter periods, then drop down to a ranking range that carries less pressure and demands.

It’s not clear yet if Khachanov could be different than Safin or Kafelnikov, and that he has the type of personality that would embrace the role as world’s best tennis player. It’s a lot of extra work, and talking with strangers and saying the right things and growing the sport all over the world. To be world no. 1 is assuming the role as the Face of the entire sport.

One thing is clear though, Khachanov has the game, the body, the athleticism, the decision making, the precision, and the weapons to be a dominant world no. 1 – if he has that burning, ruthless desire to apply his talents to constantly push himself to his limits. But that will require a tremendous commitment and sacrifice of many freedoms and so much time. There will be endless media requests, major press conferences in different languages after each match. Everyone will be looking at you and talking about you and conspiring to beat you. To be no. 1 is a lot of work and a heavy burden. And the longer you stay at no. 1, the more work it will be.

A new star has officially been born. His name is Karen Khachanov. The tennis world is about to become the oyster of this Russian juggernaut.


  • Hartt · November 5, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    One bonus of Karen winning the Paris title is there are so many articles about him. You were ahead of the pack with your Biofile. I actually looked for it and reread it after he won, so it’s nice to see that you reposted it.

    I don’t know if Karen will become a dominant No. 1 but, as you say, he has the weapons to achieve that. From all reports he works very hard and is committed to continually improving his game. If he does reach No. 1, I think he has the ability to cope with the demands. He is a very mature 22 year old, and his natural charm will go a long way with the media. He is working on a degree for the University of Moscow, so I hope he can complete that before the demands on his time become too great. And he may have less time for reading Russian novels – perhaps he can find shorter books. 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 5, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Hartt, thank you, it was a good sign that he said in the Biofile a desire about being the best. So he has that drive. Very few players openly say anything about wanting to be the best or no. 1, and the few who do get criticized. He said it softly but he said it. Will keep a close eye on how this win inspires him and his self belief and if he gets hungry for more big titles. We are long overdue for a Russian to be a major force in the top 5. Rublev looks like a top 25 guy, maybe top 15 at best.

  • Thomas Tung · November 9, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    It seems to be easier for Karen to generate power than Andrey — my gut feeling is that Rublev almost tries too hard (like a Russian version of Ryan Harrison re: intensity), and needs to play a little smarter, a little more relaxed, and in a slightly less mentally taxing way. Then, he can be a Top 10-25 player.

    But yes, I like Khachanov’s weapons and intangibles more than Rublev.



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