Karen Khachanov, the 20 year old 6-foot-6-inch giant from Russia, managed a lot of firsts when he won his first ATP tour level title in Chengdu last week.
He became the first Russian champ on the ATP World Tour since Mikhail Youzhny won the Valencia Open in 2013. He is the third #NextGen player (a term coined by the ATP for players who are under age 21 and are in the top 200 of the ATP rankings) to win an ATP title this year, after Kyrgios and Zverev.
While there was quite a lot of hype about fellow Russian, the 18-year old Andrey Rublev, it is Khachanov who has drawn first blood at the start of what the Russian tennis fans would hope is a healthy battle between the two youngsters to bring back the golden days of Russian Tennis. Let us now take a look at a few interesting pieces of information about Khachanov.
1) Picked up the racquet as soon as he was born(well, almost!)
Khachanov was a 3-year old in kindergarten when his parents decided to him put him into a tennis group. There was no looking back ever since. His penchant for sport was evident, as he played basketball in Russia at the national level as a high-schooler.
His idols growing up were Juan Martin del Potro and Marat Safin – and understandably so!
At the age of 15, he left Russia to train with Vedran Martic, Goran Ivanisevic's former coach, in Croatia. Since then, Khachanov has been based in Barcelona for the past three years, learning the nuances of the game under Galo Blanco, who was Milos Raonic's early tutor.