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Khachanov: I am a brave guy, 100% Karen and I don't want to be anyone else

The Russian Karen Khachanov on February 13 updated his rating record to 48th position, entering the top 50 for the first time. This week the first racket of Russia plays at the prestigious ATP-500 tournament in Rotterdam. After rejections by Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka , the Russian got a place in the main draw of one of the most famous indoor tournaments in the world. Khachanov is one of the five representatives of the new generation in the grid, along with Alexander Zverev , Stefanos Tsitsipas , Tallon Grikspor and Borna Coric with whom he will play in the first round. On the eve of this meeting, the correspondent of the Championship talked to the Russian tennis player.

- Karen, congratulations on getting into the top 50. You are in Rotterdam at the last moment. Are you happy with the main grid?
- Thank you very much. Last year I was one step away from hitting the net, but in the end I was unlucky, so this is my first appearance in Rotterdam. This is a great competition, one of the best ATP-500 tournaments in the round.

- How do you feel after a month and a half since the start of the season?
- I feel that improving my game day by day. At the same time, I have to go up against stronger opponents. You need to be ready to give 100%. Let's see how I manage to gain a foothold at this level, but I feel like I'm playing better.

- You lost a dramatic five-set Davis Cup match to Viktor Troitsky with matchball. What are your impressions from that meeting?
- It was a tough match for me, and indeed the whole meeting with the Serbian national team was not easy for the team. We lost, but we weren't that far from being successful. It is a pity that we did not manage to achieve the desired result, but the matches were intense and interesting.

- Can you tell us about your origin and Armenian roots?
- My father and grandfather were born in Yerevan. They moved to Moscow during the Soviet era. I was born in 1996 in Russia. On the maternal side, my grandfather was half Armenian, so my mother is almost Russian. My grandfather moved to Moscow because of work. He is a urologist by profession. He graduated from the university in Yerevan, and they went to Moscow when my father was still a child.

- Do you keep in touch with your family in Armenia?
- Of course. We have many relatives and friends there, especially my grandfather and father. I don't have many friends there myself. Armenian families are usually very large and friendly.

- How did you start playing tennis?
- When I was three years old, my parents, who played tennis for their pleasure, decided that I should try playing after kindergarten. I went to workouts three times a week. From the age of eight they began to study with me individually, and then I began to study at Spartak. I wanted more classes, so I applied for summer camp. When I was 16, I moved to Croatia, where Vedran Martic, who was previously Goran Ivanisevic's coach, worked with me for a year and a half. ATIn 2014 I returned to Moscow and was looking for a coach, then Igor Kunitsyn took over. He is now focusing on working with the Davis Cup team. Igor traveled with me for two months, and then my agent found Galo Blanco. Now I work with him in Barcelona. We've been together for almost three years.

- Is there someone who inspires you in a special way?
- Myself ( laughs ). It comes from within. I love tennis and want to be one of the best. You always need to be motivated to work hard and strive for your goals.

- You live in Dubai. Do you have the opportunity to spend time there?
- I'm trying, but the tennis season is so busy that it's hard to stay in one place for a long time. I am constantly on the move. When there is a break, then you can head home.

- What did you learn in your first seasons on the ATP Tour?
- You have to be determined to work on your game and compete with the best tennis players. It is important to be prepared physically and mentally. Psychology means a lot. On-court behavior and mental health are very important parts of the game. At the highest level, you constantly need to work on something. Sometimes it takes time. It is important for me to move in the right direction. It is impossible to play well every week, so it is very important to win those matches when the game is sometimes not going well. I am currently working on these points a lot.

- What are your long-term and short-term goals?
- I do not set myself short-term goals, because you never know how long will be needed to achieve the main goal. Of course, you always want to be the best. I am happy with where I am now, but at the same time I strive to be higher. Ultimately, I want to be the best in the world. So in this sense, I cannot say that the current position suits me ( laughs ).

- APR is actively promoting the new generation. Does the fact that you are one of the players in this group somehow excite you?
- It's great that my generation is fighting the best representatives of the ATP tour. Although not all of us are high in the rankings yet. It's nice to be in this group of players. We try to cheer each other up and continue to work on ourselves.

- How could you compare your level of play with other players of the new generation?
- Everyone has their own skills and personality ... Sasha Zverev is the best among us in the rating. He is a few steps ahead of me and the others. Other guys, however, also add. Let's see where we end up.

- You were trained at the Russian State University of Physical Culture. Did you have enough time for this?
- It was not easy, but the university adapts to professional athletes. I attended classes online when I had time. Not only me, by the way, because Andrey Kuznetsov and Evgeny Donskoy studied with me. While playing tennis, it is easier to choose something that is close to you. And after the eyeAt the beginning of a career, you can choose what you want to do.

- What is your main fear?
- I have no fears, to be honest. I'm a brave guy (laughs) .

- If you could become a different person for a day, who would you choose from all the people on the planet?
- Nobody. I like being myself. I'm 100% Karen (laughs) . I would not like to be anyone else.

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