Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Karen Khachanov attends the media roundtable at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel's Cu-ba restaurant ahead of the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Last couple of tournaments, results didn’t go your way. How are you looking at this tournament?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah, I mean, after Melbourne, maybe two tournaments were not the best for me. But again, I didn’t feel so well. Also I had some other issues.
Yeah, obviously now I’m full charged. I trained week before. Unfortunately I couldn’t compete in Marseille, wasn’t 100%. Here I arrived Thursday. We had a good training week. So let’s see how it goes. Hopefully good.
Q. Physically were you ill? An injury?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah, I was a little sick. Many players in the European swing they had some virus. Unfortunately I had it also. Not as long maybe as other players. Still couldn’t compete this week.
I had a quite fast recovery. I was feeling good in practice again. That’s why I’m saying I had good preparation. Especially here for Dubai, it’s a little bit different conditions, warmer, desert, so the balls fly more.
I arrived early to adapt.
Q. I read earlier in the year that you changed your racquet. You’re back with Head. Was that part of settling in with the new racquet?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I don’t know. I don’t like to blame something. You need to feel comfortable with it. It’s not about the racquet. All racquets are good, I say like this. It’s just maybe some racquets fits some players.
For me, I used to play before with Head for seven years. Basically mentally at one point for me it was easier to change. Let’s see, keep testing. Sooner or later I need to make a decision.
I don’t like to blame something, if it’s the racquet or myself or something. There is always a reason. Let’s see how it goes.
Q. You were an alternate last year at the O2. Was it something that you wanted to be on your agenda as part of your goals?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I mean, I start the year from the beginning, let’s say like that. Of course, I’m thinking about being there in London.
But I like to focus more on myself and my game, not focus more on the points, the results. Results are always coming if you are playing well. It’s like that. Or even when you are not playing well, but you are winning, all is connected.
I’m thinking about this year, trying to get this consistency in my level, at the level I had maybe mostly in the second part of last year. Let’s see.
Q. How far do you think you are from your best level?
KAREN KHACHANOV: It’s tough to say. Sometimes you are practicing well, but then the real feel you have when you play tournaments. Practice sometimes, even before last year, I remember looking back, I had maybe not the best feeling, but then you go on court, you compete well, you play different. It’s tough to say.
I think right now, honestly, I’m feeling quite well right now.
Q. Back to the racquet question. Are you trying newer Head racquets every week, every other week? Are you switching between racquets but haven’t arrived at one, is that how it is?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yes.
Q. You had a great finish to the season last year. Stefanos had a great win over Roger at the Australian Open. Do you think what you young guys have done at the end of last year and again this year, that sort of opened up draws in the men’s game, more players are winning, it’s almost like anybody’s tournament now?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I would say that. I mean, even you can see the statistics of last year, second part of the year, I think in the further stages there were a lot of young players than before. Statistics show really that younger players are going deeper and deeper in the tournaments week by week.
I think that’s true.
Q. We’ve seen a fair number of young players emerge, then regrettably fail to live up to their expectations. What helps you focus on your end goal? What is the strategy that you and your team plan to implement this year? This could be an important year for you.
KAREN KHACHANOV: Every year is like that. Tennis is a different sport because every year, every tournament, you have opportunity. You can win, you can lose. Every week you have to try to bring your best A game, right? You want to win.
Unfortunately it’s not like in the UFC fights or somewhere else that you are undefeated in general, right? Every year you try to be as better as possible, as best as possible.
For me personally, I’m looking more at myself. For sure the main priority is to be healthy. Unfortunately if you are not feeling great, you cannot compete in general.
Then on the other side, I have to look at myself, every week you are looking what advantages you have, what disadvantages you have, what you are doing well. You have to analyze.
With my team, we are analyzing. For example, sometimes it can be just a few points difference that you lost a match, or you don’t play as great as you expected.
Q. You’re talking about the younger generation of players coming through. Has it added anything, an incentive, that your close friends with Daniil, close to you in the rankings, do you have a special rivalry?
KAREN KHACHANOV: It doesn’t stress me at all, man. We are friends outside, inside. We are opponents. I’m looking at him as any other opponent, if I have to play against him.
Doesn’t matter for me. Either Daniil is in front of me or behind me, or any other guy from another country. For me, it doesn’t make any difference.
I want to be better as him or any other opponent. That’s what I’m trying to tell you (smiling).
Q. Did beating Novak Djokovic last year make a difference?
KAREN KHACHANOV: For who?
Q. For you.
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yes.
Q. How do you look at that match in retrospect?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I mean, it was great, great run. It was greatest tournament so far for me, obviously. Like I was playing before, I remember that I was pretty happy that I could play against Novak in the final tournament like that, against the world No. 1. Being able to beat him, that was something special.