The Dubai resident Karen Khachanov has been training at the Al Habtoor Tennis Academy off Shaikh Zayed Road for the last couple of days, returning home following the third-round loss at the Australian Open to Nick Kyrgios.
World no. 17 has not been playing well after conquering the first Masters 1000 crown in Paris 2018 over Novak Djokovic, failing to reach an ATP final since then despite reaching the top-10 in July last year. Following a mediocre 30-29 score in 2019, the Russian kicked off the new season with four victories at the ATP Cup, losing to Dusan Lajovic in the semis before an early exit at the ASB Classic in Auckland to John Millman.
Khachanov gave his best against Nick Kyrgios in Melbourne, fending off match points in sets three and four to force a decider that the Aussie claimed in the match tie break after almost two and a half hours. Karen will now embrace an indoor European swing in Rotterdam and Marseille before heading back home to Dubai where he claimed only one victory in the past three years, hoping for a better run in a strong field of players led by Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Asked about the young guns, Khachanov is eager to be among the first players from the new generation with a Major success, mentioning Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and himself as the biggest competitors for the throne in the years to come.
"I always wish to play well here, but this has somehow not worked here for the last few years. I really don't know what it is, but maybe I am not getting used to the conditions here," Khachanov said. "I hope this year will be different as I have spent the whole of December here with my pre-season preparations; I hope I can fare a little bit better for the tournament.
I am always thinking big but would not like to take it ranking-wise. There is no secret that I want to be as high as possible. I want to focus more on myself and put myself in a position where I can win more. It is an essential part of the game and the results will come automatically.
For me, it is a question when the younger guys will step up and try to push our legends out of the top. I cannot tell you when this is going to happen. I wish I can be the first among these young players winning a Grand Slam.
Everybody among the younger generation play on a high level and I have much respect for them all. I think we all have pretty similar levels and it is tough to say who is going to jump first. It could be anyone, and it is tough to bet on someone in particular.
Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and me, the six of us could be dominating in the future. Still, I can't say who will be number one, two or three; it's hard to predict.
At the moment, I feel I am not far from the top. It all depends on the state of mind while believing in myself and pushing myself. I think I can reach that level soon."