First-Time Winner Spotlight: Karen Khachanov
#NextGen star Karen Khachanov made it a historic Sunday at the inaugural Chengdu Open, claiming his first ATP World Tour title with a 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The 20-year-old Russian will soar nearly 50 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings to a projected career-high No. 55. He is the third different #NextGen winner this year, joining Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev, and is the ninth first-time champion on the ATP World Tour this year.
ATPWorldTour.com spoke to Khachanov after his victory in Chengdu.
How does it feel to win your first ATP World Tour title?
I feel really happy that I did it. I'm working hard every day. It's the first dream I achieved.
What makes this title so special for you?
The win is special for me because it's my mom's birthday. I'm happy that my first title could be a present for her.
Did you think that your first title would come so soon?
I didn't expect that it would come this week. I was just confident in every match and doing the things that I could control. I worked for this and am happy to have this title.
What was your approach going into your first ATP World Tour final and how did coach Galo Blanco help you?
He told me to just go for it and enjoy it. He told me that it's my first final and to enjoy it and go to get the win.
You beat four seeds en route to your first ATP World Tour title. What did you do well during the week to put five wins together?
I was focused every match here. Maybe that's the difference from the other tournaments. I was playing consistent in all the matches this week.
You are the third #NextGen player to win an ATP World Tour title this season (Kyrgios, Zverev). What do you think about this group of young stars?
It's good that the young guys are coming up. We're competing with the older guys and it feels great. I hope in the future we can play against each other in finals.
You are on the way to finishing the season in the Top 60, possibly the Top 50. Did you have a ranking goal coming into this season?
I don't want to make any goals, because there are no limits. You can try to go for more and then see what is your real ranking at the end of the year. I'm trying to push myself as hard as possible and then we'll see.
You are one of the most improved players on the ATP World Tour this season. What are the things you worked on with Galo to make you a better player?
It's everything on and off the court. I'm working with my team, also the physio, and I've improved many things. That's why I've had the biggest progress in my career.
Are you setting your sights on competing in the bigger ATP World Tour events now?
Yes, of course. Now I'd like to play in bigger events like this and my plans are a lot of better because I know my ranking will increase. I can focus on bigger events now.