The 25-year-old Karen Khachanov has been ranked inside the top-30 for three and a half years if we exclude a couple of weeks, becoming world no. 8 in the summer of 2019. Karen claimed three ATP titles in 2018, including his first Masters 1000 title in Paris following a victory over Novak Djokovic.
The Russian is yet to repeat those results, reaching only two ATP finals since 2019 and losing them both. Karen practiced with Novak in Dubai 2020, and the Serb praised his young colleague, saying he has a powerful game that should lead him towards the top-5 one day.
Djokovic defeated Khachanov at Wimbledon 2018 in straight sets in their first meeting before the youngster stunned the famous opponent at the end of the season in Paris.
Novak Djokovic spoke about Karen Khachanov in Dubai 2020.
Khachanov could not produce similar tennis in 2019, winning 30 matches alongside a similar number of losses.
Novak defeated Karen 6-3, 6-3 at the Davis Cup Finals in the season’s closing stages before two encounters in 2020. Djokovic was too strong in Dubai, beating the Russian 6-2, 6-2 in 67 minutes after getting broken once and delivering five breaks that carried him through.
Novak and Karen battled at Roland Garros a few months later in their fifth and so far the last meeting. Djokovic earned a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory, breaking Khachanov six times to control the scoreboard and seal the deal in under two and a half hours.
“Karen Khachanov is a physically very powerful player. He hits the ball hard, especially from the forehand wing, with a flat backhand and big serve. With this kind of game, I think he’s always a contender to be top-10 or top-15.
He’s been playing on a higher level in the last, I would say, four or five months. Then, he had some ups and downs during the early months of the previous season. I remember he was testing racquets after he won against me in the final of Paris Bercy; that was his best finish of the year and the best season.
Karen is still young, and he is figuring out how to be the best version of himself throughout the entire year; it’s a big task. It is much more difficult nowadays to get to top-10 or top-5, and I’m sure that’s his goal. He has the talent and potential to achieve that,” Novak Djokovic said.