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Karen Khachanov’s loss at the Citi Open is just a blip on the radar for what he wants to achieve

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Karen Khachanov’s loss at the Citi Open is just a blip on the radar for what he wants to achieve

WASHINGTON - Russia has quickly become one of the top tennis superstar-producing countries in the world. Russia is the only nationality to have two players currently in the top-10 world rankings and both are on the verge of breaking through.

Leading the Russian brigade is Karen Khachanov, a 23-year-old right-handed player on the best stretch of his career. 

He’s reached his highest world ranking, No. 8, with three of his four ATP titles coming late last year. 

As a part of the next generation of players to eventually unset the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal, Khachanov is one that continues to rise. 

Last year he entered the Citi Open in Washington D.C. with a No. 37 ranking. With the aforementioned titles and a quarterfinal run at the French Open, he’s propelled himself to his career-high ranking, past former Grand Slam winners Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro and Stan Wawrinka. 

As time has circled around to the Citi Open once again, a lot has changed for Khachanov. There’s more press, higher expectations, a child on the way, and more opportunities. While all of this is happening he tries to keep everything he does in his approach the same. 

“It depends from which angle we look. On one side yes, I'm top-10 right now, and this is, again, a great milestone, great achievement, in the top 10 of the best players in the world,” Khachanov told NBC Sports Washington. “From another side, expectations, they go much higher, so the higher you go as higher expectations growing. So, from that side is, it's a more difficult, for media as well, people are expecting maybe you succeed more often than bigger tournaments.” 

Along the way, he’s continuing to garner wins against the top players in the world. His biggest was against 16-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic back in the 2018 Paris Masters Final. 

The win gave him his first-ever Masters 1,000 title, the second tier of tournaments behind the four majors. 

Other notable wins include one over del Potro to reach the French Open quarterfinals. Although del Potro was one of his idols growing up, those matches are no different for the Russian. 

“[It’s] the same when I played against Novak and any other top guy, because, when I was young, I was watching them on TV and then you're playing in the big tournaments against them,” Khachanov said. “So it’s a great feeling, great motivation from being a kid. And, yeah, I just, I just want to try to give it all, when I play those kinds of clashes, especially against top guys.”

The results are continuing to build for Khachanov, reaching the first peak of his career. 

But not only has he gained momentum on the court but back in March 2019 he became an Aurora Goodwill Ambassador. As a Goodwill Ambassador, Khachanov is one of 149 leaders from diverse backgrounds and fields of work looking to tackle global challenges. 

The lone member of the Forum on the ATP tour, Khachanov is hoping to add his perspective to the conversation. 

“I would like help Aurora to expand this exciting network, by raising awareness through a number of publicity efforts involving myself in the program of events for the October forum, and offering advice and ideas, and my experience will be held in providing a different perspective, hopefully,” Khachanov said. 

For Khachanov the success did not continue in this year’s edition of the Citi Open. Receiving a bye into the Second Round he fell to former world No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets. Last year he also exited the event due to an early-round loss. 

But like many of his opponents, the Citi Open serves as a tune-up tournament for the U.S Open Series. The next two stops, the Rogers Cup and the Western and Southern Open are the biggest tests before the final major in 2019. So far we’ve only seen the beginning of what Khachanov is becoming. 

Each year he continues to build on the momentum for the previous one. While we didn’t see him make a run in Washington D.C., there are sure to be many more in the future.

MORE CITI OPEN NEWS:

1.20.20 Rick Horrow sits down Nick Kelly, Vice President of Partnerships, Beer Culture, and Community for Anheuser-Busch InBev

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USA TODAY Sports

1.20.20 Rick Horrow sits down Nick Kelly, Vice President of Partnerships, Beer Culture, and Community for Anheuser-Busch InBev

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with Nick Kelly, Vice President of Partnerships, Beer Culture, and Community for Anheuser-Busch InBev.



LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

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The Big Twenty: What it means to look back on two decades of heartbreak, jubilation and history

The Big Twenty: What it means to look back on two decades of heartbreak, jubilation and history

20 years.

Two decades.

Five administrations on Pennsylvania Avenue.

A lot happened in and around the District in the last 20 years, and for us, those from here and of here, the sports world flipped upside down.

There were droughts, intense droughts. Then parades, intense parades.

There was heartbreak. There was elation.

To really experience life as a D.C. sports fan, misery became the currency over the last 20 years.

Playoff flops, unbelievable upsets, unfortunate injuries and one painful, gut-wrenching display of the fragility of life.

That despair, that dismay, that depth of loss, eventually, allowed for growth.

And then, out of nowhere, improbably and incredibly, came the boom.

Kahlil Gibran wrote The Prophet in 1923, but one passage in particular applies to life as a DMV sports fan in 2020: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

The sorrow was real. But the joy made the trip worth it.

Nothing will ever top the image of Alex Ovechkin skating to Nicklas Backstrom in the Las Vegas desert. Ovi holding the Stanley Cup high over his head, finally, mercifully, ending D.C.’s championship drought that stretched nearly three decades.

The Capitals finally broke through in 2018, taking down the Penguins in the second round of the playoffs en route to their first ever Stanley Cup Championship, and with that win, the curse was broken.

If that curse was real or perceived didn’t matter.

Perception becomes reality, and as the Caps, Nationals and Redskins all learned during the drought, playoff heartbreak was all too real.

One year later, with the championship door kicked in by the Caps, the Mystics and Nationals joined the party.

The Nats title was almost make-believe, a series of events more improbable than the last, and the final chapter a storybook ending of perseverance.

Those titles are the best moments - obviously. Deservedly.

There were plenty of other moments too, and unfortunately, many of them aren’t pleasant.

Nothing will ever change the shock and sadness of Sean Taylor’s passing. Nothing.

Time won’t be able to dim the glow of Robert Griffin III’s rookie year, even all the losing and the long, slow implosion that followed.

After plenty of long droughts and ugly moments, the area again found college basketball’s peak.

Maryland’s men's and women’s teams won titles and eventually Virginia too broke through to cut down nets.

Baltimore knew no such title droughts as its Ravens proved to be one of the best franchises in football. Twice Super Bowl winners, it’s undeniable that some of the best modern players wore purple. They’ve got statues to prove it.

Legends came back, including huge names like Michael Jordan and Joe Gibbs.

The success of their earlier career didn’t follow, but it was still a wild ride. Another legend said goodbye, but the Ironman Cal Ripken never actually leaves. He’s the Ironman.

The greatest swimmers in the world emerged, and they’re from here. They’re household names now - Ledecky and Phelps.

A Cinderella broke through, and by George Mason making the Final Four in 2006, changed the game for future “mid-majors” forever.

D.C. United won and built a new showcase.

Stephen Strasburg piled up strikeouts and got shut down.

Alex Ovechkin scored. And scored. And scored. Gilbert let us all down.

Trying to boil down two decades of sport is hard. Looking at the totality of the events, the totality of a region divided by state lines and distinct cities and mountains to the west and water to the east, yet still united by sports, speaks to the immeasurable heart and spirit of what being a fan means. The drought is over. Long live the good times.