'Rafael Nadal is a hard-working player with intense shots,' Karen Khachanov recalls

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'Rafael Nadal is a hard-working player with intense shots,' Karen Khachanov recalls

Rafael Nadal and Karen Khachanov have played eight official matches, with the Spaniard emerging at the top in all of them. Rafa and Karen have had some incredible battles, and the more 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 their opening four meetings, 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 his most notable title in Paris later that year, cracking the top-20 and remaining in that group a year later despite a mediocre 30-29 score.

Nadal and Khachanov battled twice in 2019, playing three tie breaks in four sets. Rafa beat Karen 7-6, 7-6 in Indian Wells and earned a 6-3, 7-6 victory at the Davis Cup Finals.

Karen Khachanov praised Rafael Nadal after their 2019 Abu Dhabi clash.

Two rivals set another clash at the end of the year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, playing for a place in the final.

Rafa emerged at the top with a 6-1, 6-3 win, dominating serve and return and mixing his game nicely to leave the rival behind. Khachanov fought better in the second set, but it was not to be for him, getting broken twice and propelling Rafa into the title clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

After the match, Khachanov praised the event and the Spaniard, labeling him a hard-working player who always gives his best. "It was a difficult match because Rafa played extremely well. That's why I play these matches to see where my game stands and how I deal with the pressure.

I'm thrilled I had a chance to play against Rafa at this level. I have one more match against Novak. There are the world's best players, and those are the best encounters I could get. The players here in Abu Dhabi are powerful, and even when you lose, you learn more than you would during a normal practice session in more relaxed conditions.

I'm always encouraged to play against Nadal; there is always unbelievable intensity, and I like that. I admire him as a hard-working player, and I like his intense shots and movement," Karen Khachanov said.