© Karen Khachanov

Karen Khachanov credits his time on the ATP Challenger Tour with his success in 2016.

#NextGen Star Khachanov Credits Challengers With Rise In Rankings

The Russian teenager has been enjoying a breakout season in 2016

One of the biggest appeals for fans of the ATP Challenger Tour is catching a rising star before they reach the upper echelons of the sports. In the case of #NextGen star Karen Khachanov, it may not be long before he makes that move.

The 19-year-old Russian won his first ATP Challenger Tour title last September in Istanbul, Turkey, and has continued to build on that milestone moment since then. He reached his second ATP Challenger Tour final last March in Jonkoping, Sweden, and broke through on the main stage last March at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Barcelona, Spain, defeating Top 20 player Roberto Bautista Agut en route to a third-round finish.

Khachanov is back on the ATP Challenger Tour this week as the No. 1 seed at the tournament in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. He credits his time in Challengers with helping him achieve his recent success and said it was important for him to keep playing these events as he continues to make a push up the Emirates ATP Rankings.

“My success in Challengers has helped, of course,” said Khachanov. “Passing through the Challengers helped make my character stronger and developed my willpower and patience, which is one of the reasons I performed so well in Barcelona."

Khachanov has made several trips to Uzbekistan in recent years, winning a Futures title last year and advancing to the quarter-finals of ATP Challenger Tour events in Samarkand, Karshi and Fergana. Although he admitted traveling there is a long process, he said it’s worth it once he arrives.

“It’s a bit complicated to get to Uzbekistan, but the Challengers here are really well-organized,” said Khachanov. “There are also some really beautiful places in Uzbekistan with great historic value that are nice to visit."

The teenager credited a rigorous off-season for helping to take his game to the next level in 2016, which included plenty of gym work and “lot of hours of practise on court with specific exercises.” With a long career likely ahead for Khachanov, he said his main priority is to simply keep improving.

“I’d like to finish this season with the highest Emirates ATP Ranking possible,” said Khachanov. “The main thing for me though is to improve in every aspect of my profession.”

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