Karen Khachanov acknowledged that Rafael Nadal exiting the US Open opened the doors for the rest of the competition to win the tournament. On Monday, Nadal suffered a shock US Open last-16 loss to Frances Tiafoe. The next day, Khachanov defeated Nick Kyrgios 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-7 (3) 6-4 to progress into his first Grand Slam semifinal.
After beating Kyrgios, Khachanov suggested Nadal exiting the US Open didn't really affect him much mentally since they were not in the same part of the draw. But Khachanov noted that the US Open is more open now that Nadal is out of the tournament.
"No, to be honest [it does not impact me mentally]. Rafa was in the down part of the draw. First to see Rafa here, to win all his matches, I had to win all mine. It's still a long way to meet him in the final potentially," Khachanov answered.
"I would say not really. Since he was out, I would say it was quite open for all the guys because everybody kind of see that there is opportunity to take the trophy. I would say maybe it even increased the level for everyone."
Khachanov set to meet Casper Ruud
In the US Open semifinal, Khachanov faces fifth-seeded Ruud.
Khachanov and Ruud will be going head-to-head for the second time when they meet at the US Open. Previously, Ruud defeated Khachanov when they clashed at the Rome Masters in 2020. Even though Khachanov is three years older, Ruud has a bit more experience in this stage of Grand Slams.
Khachanov, 26, has been through to his first Grand Slam semifinal. On the other side, 23-year-old Ruud made his first Grand Slam final at this year's French Open. Ruud knows how it feels to be in a Grand Slam semifinal and what it takes to win that match. It remains to be seen if Khachanov can beat Ruud for his first Grand Slam final.