“I am burning inside to compete again” – Khachanov continues comeback in Zhuhai

Karen Khachanov is on the comeback in China this week, as he looks to rekindle the form that saw him make back-to-back Grand Slam semi-finals before a spine injury sidelined him

Karen Khachanov, Roland-Garros, 2023 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

At the mid-way point of this season, Karen Khachanov was playing some of his best tennis. The Russian had just reached consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, stringing together final four runs at the 2022 US Open and 2023 Australian Open. Add to this dual quarter-finals in Adelaide, a semi-final run in Miami, plus yet another quarter-final showing at Roland-Garros 2023, and the then-world No 10 was in the form of his life.

That is, until a painful fracture to the sacrum bone in his spine pushed the 27-year-old to the sidelines for the better part of three months, barely able to walk.

Now, Khachanov is well and truly on the comeback trail, and the former No 8 couldn’t be more excited to return to the level he proved he’s capable of earlier this season.

Khachanov makes the most of forced time off

A self-described family man, Karen Khachanov immediately made the most of his back injury following his Roland-Garros defeat in May.

“I have been a family man since a young age and I am just really happy that I have already had two kids, two sons. I just kind of loved this moment,” confessed the Russian.

“It was kind of a setback, in a way, because I was in really good form and getting closer and closer and I proved it with my results. Most of all, I proved it to myself. I was really feeling that I was getting closer to the cherry on the pie.

“But these things, sometimes you cannot control them, so you have to just accept it and make the best out of it. What could I do? Okay, ‘I have an unexpected vacation with my family’.”

 Explaining his injury further, Khachanov elaborated on how the fracture occurred:

“It all started from Australia,” the Russian revealed. “I had been playing well. I kept pushing. But then it got to the moment where I literally could not walk after the Roland Garros match with Novak.”

“It was time. I could push to a certain moment, but it was a clear sign when I had pain to walk. That is when I had to stop.”

Former world No 8 “burning inside to compete”

With plenty of family time under his belt, Karen Khachanov is now turning his mind to the comeback trail in China, where the Russian is the top seed at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships this week.

“I’m really pumped. I’m really burning inside to compete again,” the current world No 15 said.

“It’s really great to be back here. I missed this Tour,” Khachanov continued. “I like to play in Asia. Every year, it’s special to come back to China. Really, I am burning inside to compete again.”

Having returned to the ATP Tour at the US Open last month, Khachanov’s comeback had something of a false start, with the Russian falling in straight sets to American Michael Mmoh in the first round.

Now, however, Khachanov says that his body is feeling even better, and he’s more confident about his ability to perform at his best in the near future.

“I need to keep my body in shape and know that I don’t have any pains with any movement, so that I can be fully practising at 100 per cent. Lately, that’s what has been happening. It’s a good sign that I don’t have any setbacks from that moment.”

“I need to take a little time to get the form which I had before. I don’t know how much time it will take, but at the same time, I know that if I did it before, why not do it again?”

Khachanov’s Zhuhai campaign will begin against Australian Alex Bolt on Tuesday, who overcame Diego Schwartzman in the first round.

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