Karen Khachanov’s win at the Australian Open leaves many red-faced

Karen Khachanov makes it back-to-back semi-finals in Grand Slam events as he reaches the last-4 of the 2023 Australian Open.

Karen Khachanov’s win at the Australian Open leaves many red-faced

Karen Khachanov

Karen Khachanov, you could say the name does not sound too familiar. No, not after Tuesday afternoon, when the Russian got the better of Sebastian Korda to enter the semi-finals in the men’s singles of the 2023 Australian Open. Agreed, the official scorecard says Korda retired at 0-3 in the third set due to a wrist injury, but there is no taking away credit from Karen.

For those who were living the dream of Korda becoming a hero at the AO in Melbourne, as to how an American who would emulate his father Petr Korda, there was a dramatic change in script. There is no doubting Karen Khachanov is a strong Russian prospect, though anyone from his country is hounded.

Agreed, there is an ugly war raging between Russia and Ukraine, led by madman Vladimir Putin. But the athletes have nothing to do with it. If anything, tennis players are peaceniks. Khachanov, who was in the semi-finals of the US Open last September, was never in the news all along.

In fact, a few more Russian tennis players have been talked of more. The sad part is they cannot even use their nationality while playing at the Grand Slams. In many ways, though the focus was on Korda, whose father Petr was born in the erstwhile Czechoslovakia and then played for the Czech Republic, Sebastian has been a Yank.

Related: “Loves to retire when he is down,” Fans unimpressed by withdrawal of Sebastian Korda due to ‘apparent’ wrist injury in the Australian Open quarterfinal match against Karen Khachanov

Karen Khachanov truly ‘reinventing’ himself

Karen Khachanov
Karen Khachanov

At least, the Americans think he is a genuine guy from their own country and would do the nation proud in the AO. Perhaps, it was bad luck and the rigors of playing high intensity tennis which saw him getting injured and in tears. Now, the focus shifts to Khachanov, silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Compared to the big guns of Russian tennis, Daniill Medvedev, and before that Marat Safin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and of course Maria Sharapova, Khachanov has been heard and talked about less. Though he was born in Russia and then moved to Croatia and was drilled in tennis, he has been knocking around for a few years.

The big year for him was in 2018, where he beat Novak Djokovic in the Paris Masters 1000 final. Khachanov should have built on that win, but it did not happen. He was, in fact, obscured and not a big name at all. That was till the US Open last year when he made it to the last four. The way he has smashed his way into the semis at the AO, he is more than a mention.

Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are the big Russian guns but this time Khachanov has shown great form. His serve was big and the groundstrokes he executed were solid. One could hear the power being generated. Standing at 6 feet and 6 inches, he is definitely huge. Sometimes, such height can be an advantage, while serving. At the same time, when a player is too tall, to bend for the low ball is not easy.

On this day, Khachanov was in explosive form. It was a bit reminiscent of the last US Open, when Khachanov blew away Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals in a five set gut-wrencher. Maybe, the Russian is playing with more ease now. The crowds in Melbourne have been at their worst behavior this time. Not only have they needled players like Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, Khachanov was also taunted.

It’s not his fault he is from Russia. An athlete from a warring country is playing as a professional and not there to represent the stupid war ideology of Putin. Maybe, Khachanov doing well is embarrassing many people in the tennis fraternity, right now. He doesn’t care, the big man is on a roll. Literally.

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