Rafael Nadal and Karen Khachanov have played seven official matches so far, with the Spaniard emerging as the winner in all of them. Rafa and Karen have had some incredible battles, and the most experienced player would always find a way out, winning all seven tie-breaks against the Russian to maintain a perfect score.
Nadal had the upper hand in his first four games, and Khachanov produced his best tennis against the Spaniard at the 2018 US Open, giving his best in a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 loss. after almost four and a half hours! Karen claimed the most notable title from her in Paris later that year, she broke into the top 20 and remained in that group a year later despite a 30-29 record.
Nadal and Khachanov played once in 2019, with Rafa prevailing 7-6, 7-6 after more than two hours. Two rivals scored another clash at the end of the year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, playing for a place in the final.
Rafa emerged at the top with a 6-1, 6-3 victory, dominating serve and return and mixing his game very well to outrun the opponent. Khachanov fought better in the second set, but it wasn't for him, he broke twice and led Rafa to the title clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
After the match, Khachanov praised the event and the Spaniard, labeling him a hard-working player and one who always gives his best.
Ruusuvuori discusses Nadal's attitude
Rafael Nadal's rigorous training sessions have always been a part of his aura and legacy.
The Spaniard is famous for practicing as hard and with as much focus as he plays in his professional matches. "Last two years we went to his structure in Mallorca to practice and both times I was able to practice with him," Ruusuvuori said.
"So, the first time I was more nervous... and he hits the ball so hard from the first ball. I would say there is nobody with whom you can get this kind of an experience." Emil Ruusuvuori went on to compare the training methodology of Rafael Nadal with that of Novak Djokovic.
Ruusuvuori said that even though the Serb hits the ball "cleaner", the intensity at which he operates during practice is not as frenetic as Nadal. "It's just a different kind of way with which he approaches practice and of course, how he plays," the Finn said.
"Even, say, Novak (Djokovic) is nice, and he hits the ball cleaner. But the pace in the practice is not as high, and that's something very, very different."