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"Look at Roger, Rafa, Novak, right?" - Karen Khachanov details how his friendly competition with Andrey Rublev & Daniil Medvedev benefits all 3

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Karen Khachanov compared two unique tennis rivalries to one another.
Karen Khachanov has compared two unique tennis rivalries to one another.

Karen Khachanov believes that Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, and himself are motivated by each other, much as was the case between Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer.

Khachanov secured his spot in the semifinals of the 2023 Australian Open on Tuesday after Sebastian Korda retired during their last-eight fixture. The 26-year-old was leading 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-0 when the American discontinued due to a right wrist injury.

Although Khachanov was the first among the Russian trio to assert himself on tour, he quickly found himself falling behind in the pecking order against Rublev and Medvedev. His compatriots performed better in Slams and also in non-Slam events, while he himself struggled with consistency.

However, after making back-to-back Grand Slam semifinals, Karen Khachanov is arguably the best-performing Russian man on tour in recent months. He believes that Rublev and Medvedev's success has spurred him to pull up his socks.

"Well, you know, it's like competition, right? Somebody goes further. Somebody stays where he is at the moment," Karen Khachanov said during his press conference after beating Korda.
"So I would say, yeah, we were changing, in a way, the last couple of years. Daniil was in front of us, me and Andrey, but still, Andrey was playing, top 10, finishing the Masters. I was top 20, top 15."

Highlighting how some "personal issues" briefly disturbed his tennis career in 2021, the Russian asserted that he has been working hard to turn things around.

"At one point I think I dropped to 25 or 28, yeah, like '21, that was the moment where I had some, yeah, personal issues and, you know, like tougher times, let's say, let's call it like this," he said.
"Not everything was going as smooth, but, you know, look, I always believe in myself and my abilities and what I need to do in order to be at my best," he added.

Khachanov believes he is now in the "right direction" when it comes to his career. He reckons the "competition" between himself, Medvedev, and Rublev pushes each of the three to keep improving.

"So I think with my team, we are on the right direction and the right move, and, yeah, I think this kind of competition in a positive way between us helps us to get better," Karen Khachanov said.
"Look at Roger, Rafa, Novak, right? I mean, I don't want us to compare to them obviously, but it's kind of what pushed them through during the years. They admit it many times," he added.

"At the end of the day you don't know how serious he's injured, right?" - Karen Khachanov says it is not always straightforward to go for the kill against an injured player

Sebastian Korda [L] walks off the court as Karen Khachanov looks on
Sebastian Korda [L] walks off the court as Karen Khachanov looks on

During his press conference, Karen Khachanov was asked to elaborate on how he felt when he realized Sebastian Korda was hampered by a wrist injury, and that if it made it easier for him to go for the jugular.

Lamenting Korda's unfortunate injury, the Russian explained that it was not easy to go for the kill as he did not know the extent of the American's handicap.

"It's part of the sport. I would say, yeah, it was a tough competitive battle until a certain moment, but at the end of the day you don't know how serious he's injured, right?" Karen Khachanov said.

Khachanov believes that going two sets to love down was a big body blow for the American, in light of the latter's injury.

"I think this end of the second set, you know, when I pushed through and then took it with 2-0 lead by sets, it's extra pressure to the guy, if especially he has some issues with physically, right, with the health," he stated.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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