World no. 3 Roger Federer is making his final pushes on the practice court in Dubai before making a trip to China, practicing with various rivals and shaping up his game ahead of the Australian Open. On Thursday, the 209-time Major champion hit the court with Karen Khachanov, 2018 Paris Masters champion and one of the most accomplished youngsters in the last couple of years.
Roger and Karen played only once on the Tour, in the semi-final in Halle 2017 when Roger prevailed in two tight sets after five breaks in total, with more potential encounters in 2020. At the age of 38, Roger is still ranked third behind Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, keeping the youngsters behind and lifting four ATP titles to enter the record books.
In Dubai, Roger became only the second player in the Open era with 100 ATP crowns after Jimmy Connors, adding three more to his tally to stand on 103, six behind the great American. Also, Roger extended his record as the oldest Masters 1000 champion, losing in the final at Indian Wells before conquering Miami for the 28th title at that level.
The Swiss missed the opportunity to lift a Major trophy at Wimbledon, squandering two match points against Novak Djokovic in the final and struggling in Cincinnati and the US Open before earning the title at home in Basel in October.
Competing at the ATP Finals for the 17th time, Federer reached the semi-final for the 16th time, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas and heading for a well-deserved rest before hitting the court again at his second home in Dubai.
Federer will travel to China for an exhibition, skipping the ATP Cup and preparing for the Australian Open. Karen Khachanov will finish the season in the top-20 for the second year in a row despite failing to advance into the final, struggling to repeat the form from the end of 2018 and winning only 30 out of 59 matches.
Karen was the quarter-finalist at Indian Wells and Roland Garros, adding the semi-final in Montreal and Beijing and dropping five of the last six encounters of the season, hoping for a better run in 2020. The Russian will lead his team at the ATP Cup together with Daniil Medvedev, entering the ASB Classis after that in the week before the Australian Open.