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Can Karen Kachanov Become Russia’s New Superstar?

Russia has been notorious for producing some of the best tennis players in the world. There’s former world number three, Nikolay Davydenko, former world number one, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and two-time grand slam champion as well as former world number one, Marat Safin.

That’s only accounting for some of their most famous Russian male superstars. As for women superstars, you have names like Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva, and Svetlana Kuznetsova. That being said, Russians have produced a legacy of strong players and right now, that legacy is being pushed onto Karen Kachanov.

In the past years, Russia’s presence in the male scene has diminished. Other than Karen Kachanov and Daniil Medvedev, there aren’t any other Russians in the top 50 for the singles rankings of the ATP Tour. They’ve fallen off quite a bit and the last time a male Russian tennis player won a Grand Slam was in 2005 by Marat Safin.

Now, the Russian audience is looking to Karen Kachanov to become the next Russian superstar. He certainly has the skillset to make it happen. He’s got a steady forehand and backhand and the mindset to win it all. But at the ripe age of twenty-two, a lot of things are still undetermined. Can he do it? Can he bring Russia back into the spotlight?

Karen Kachanov’s 2018 Career

2018 has been Karen Kacahnov’s best year by far. He achieved a new singles career high ranking of 11, barely missing out on the Nitto ATP Finals. However, he was able to win three titles to compensate. He won the 250 Open 13 Provence in Marseille, France as well as the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

However, his most notable title in the 2018 year was the 1000 ATP Paris Masters, a tournament notorious for its stiff competition. Despite having a scare by John Isner after he saved two match points, Karen Kachanov cruised through the Quarterfinals and Semifinals to face the biggest opponent of all, Novak Djokovic.

It was one of the biggest battles Kachanov had ever faced but he managed to down the world number two at the time, 7-5, 6-4. Winning a Masters tournament is a big deal and something most professional players won’t accomplish but winning it at the age of twenty-two is something else.

2018 was a memorable year for Karen Kachanov. He took down several top ten players—Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, and John Isner to name a few—while also securing three titles along the way. We can expect more from this man in the future.

Why Choose Kachanov?

Kachanov is overall a very strong player. He’s an all-courter, meaning he doesn’t specialize in one particular field of tennis and instead, extremely good in every field. His serve is decently fast. His forehand and backhand are impressive and on-par with Novak’s on a good day, and his speed can be unmatched at times.

Therefore, while he isn’t known for a huge serve like Kevin Anderson or Isner and he isn’t known for a grinding playstyle like Rafael Nadal, Karen Kachanov still holds all the fundamentals to be a top ten player for the next few years. If you look at his win percentages for his career, he had a 70% win rate on hard court, a 71% win rate on grass, and a 55% win rate on clay and the reason being behind the fact that Kachanov’s win percentage on clay is lower than hard and grass is due to the fact that the clay court is a court that most people have trouble adjusting to.

Only players like Stanislas Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal have truly perfected the fundamentals to playing on the clay court. Therefore, a lower win percentage on clay is usually to be expected, especially because most players don’t have as high of a clay court win percentage as they do on the other court types.

The fact of the matter is that Karen Kachanov has one of the strongest game kits in the tennis community right now. He knows how to keep experienced veterans on their toes. When he played Rafael Nadal in the third round of the US Open, he was actually projected to win it at points, especially considering the fact that he clutched the first set and had an early break in the second. Even though he ended up losing that match, he didn’t lose by large margins. In fact, he lost 7-5 5-7 6-7 6-7, meaning each set came down to a few critical points and Rafael Nadal happened to win the majority of them.

When Karen played Roger Federer in Halle, Karen Kachanov gave Federer a run for his money. Federer is known to be a master of grass courts but against Kachanov, he had to play some of the best tennis in a while to match him, eventually beating him 6-4 7-6 with a 7-5 win in the tiebreaker.

Another example is his recent win over Novak Djokovic in the Paris Masters. Novak Djokovic is known for his long rallies and his ability to play better the longer the rally goes. However, in almost every instance, Karen Kachanov outmatched him. Sure, Novak Djokovic got the early break in that match but Karen Kachanov responded by coming back with his very own break the next game. Everything Novak Djokovic did, Karen Kachanov did better and this led him to win the Masters Paris title with a 7-5 6-4 victory over the world number one.

As you can see, Karen Kachanov is an obvious threat to the veterans but he’s also been a considerable threat to the amateurs. He’s taken down Alexander Zverev, one of the top players in the world who also happens to be the youngest player in the top ten right now. He’s also been known to take down fellow Russian, Daniil Medvedev. He has a wide variety of wins over different opponents and the fact of the matter is that Karen isn’t afraid of anyone. He’ll take on just about anyone and he never backs down, not for anyone.

Karen Kachanov’s Playstyle

As I’ve said before, Karen Kachanov is an all-courter, meaning that he’s good at about everything. His serve is pretty fast and his feet are just as quick. Furthermore, he also has a strong baseline but how does he use this? Karen likes to wear out his opponent, meaning that he’s willing to play one more ball if it means he’s going to end up outlasting the person on the other side of the court. His forehand has more topspin and he puts a lot of drive into it rather than counter-striking a ball like most people.

Because he likes to incorporate spin onto his shots, he also excels at hitting passing shots. In fact, he can be compared to Rafael Nadal when it comes to hitting the passing shot because the way he hits passing shots is very close to how Rafael Nadal does it. A large part of his kit is also his ability to move the ball around from the baseline. Because his forehand and backhand are so strong, it’s no doubt that he likes to make good use of different shots to keep his opponent moving.

It was a large part as to why he was able to take down Djokovic: he was able to match the sharp crosscourt angles that Djokovic was hitting back at him. Furthermore, when it comes down to his defense, it’s nearly impeccable. He’s very good at covering the court. In fact, I would say that Karen Kachanov’s court coverage could rank in the top ten. That’s just how fast he is. Therefore, not only is it hard to take him down with an all-offense playstyle like Roger Federer’s, it’s also extremely difficult to outlast him from the baseline.

If you ever watch Karen Kachanov, you’ll see that his goal isn’t to hold serve and win fast points like Roger Federer and he doesn’t like to play pure defense like Rafael Nadal. He’s a mix in between those two things. He likes to rally with his opponent. He is extremely patient and is willing to hit one more shot if it means that he can get the opportunity to close the point out in his favor. Because he likes to incorporate heavy spin on the ball, he also likes to shove his opponent back, preventing them from approaching the net faster than most people.

And if his opponents manage to get to the net, then they better be ready for Karen Kachanov, no matter how good their approach shot was. Even if the ball curved off the court, Karen Kachanov is still going to get it and with his passing shots rivaling that of Rafael Nadal’s, it’s going to be hard for his opponent to end the point at net every time.

Overall, Karen Kachanov’s main playstyle focuses on breaking down his opponent from the baseline. That’s where Kachanov is most comfortable and where he’ll like to stay for eighty percent of his points. From here, he can hold anyone down, even the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who have been known to excel from the baseline as well.

From the baseline, he’s going to try to move the opponent around till they give something weak which he can finish off or until they miss the ball. If they try to go on the offense, Karen Kachanov’s court coverage alongside his passing ability will be able to cover him for the majority of the points.

Therefore, it’s extremely difficult to beat Karen Kachanov going pure offense and it’s extremely difficult to outlast him from the baseline. This can make Karen a tricky opponent to play and one in which scrappiness might be more of a virtue than a liability because Karen is so solid in every single aspect of the game that playing him head-on could be one’s downfall.

What’s in Store for Karen Kachanov for 2019?

Obviously, it’s tough to say for sure where Karen Kachanov will be in 2019 but we can make a rough estimate based on his past years’ results. Throughout 2016, 2017, and 2018, Karen Kachanov has shown consistently strong success in his tournaments.

That being said, if we follow the trend here, we could definitely see Karen Kachanov winning a few more titles in 2019. In my opinion, I don’t think he’ll win any on clay since that isn’t his forte but he will definitely have shots on the hard and grass court since those are his two favorite surfaces to work on. However, we have seen how deadly he can be on the hard court and since more than fifty percent of tournaments are played on the hard court, I say confidently that Karen Kachanov has a high chance of grabbing a few more titles.

His game is perfectly suited for the hard court and only the likes of Alexander Zverev, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal can truly match him every single time. At the age of twenty-two, he still has quite a bit to learn and looking at the fact that Karen Kachanov already has one Masters tournament under his belt, he’ll know what he needs to do in order to secure another.

The Pros of Betting on Kachanov

When one looks at how strong of a big a player is on the court betting-wise, they look for three things: their consistency in delivering results, past matchups, and their playstyle. Of those three, consistency is the biggest factor. If you’re not delivering results, you’re not a good pick. It’s as simple as that and right now, Kachanov gives results. He rarely ever loses in the first round and this year, he did pretty well at every single Grand Slam he went to.

In 2018, he made it to the fourth round in Wimbledon and Roland Garros, the second round in the Australian Open, and the third round in the US Open. While these might not seem pretty on paper, keep in mind that these four tournaments are the toughest tournaments throughout the entire tennis career. The best of the best play in this tournament so making it through just one round yields significant results and the fact that Kachanov was able to do this at such a young age says something the potential behind Karen Kachanov.

When it comes to past matchups, he’s also pretty solid around that area especially against frequent rivals. For example, Karen Kachanov lost to Alexander Zverev in a close five sets at Roland Garros but he quickly dismantled him with a crushing 6-1 6-2 victory at the Paris Masters. Therefore, he can hold his ground against almost any opponent, even the world number one, Novak Djokovic. Finally, his playstyle is perfect for betting. He isn’t a hot shot so that means he doesn’t go for the big shots like Denis Shapovalov.

However, at the same time, he doesn’t play too safe. Bettors like people that aren’t too unstable on the court. But they also need to have something that should put other players on edge, something that makes other players fear them. His ability to outlast almost anyone from the baseline and eventually push them to the brink of exhaustion is the perfect mix between safe and unique. Furthermore, with his young age, he has the chance to become even better than he is right now.

Therefore, Karen Kachanov has the ability to become a very good betting prospect within the next few years. He’s only twenty-two and he’s already achieved a career high ranking of number eleven in the world as well as victories over Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev. His play style will suit him well as the game of tennis becomes faster and faster thanks to the evolution of the game so that means he’s going to be here for the long run. Don’t count Karen Kachanov out because, in my opinion, he could become the next big thing.


Karen Kachanov is one of the best newcomers to the scene in a while. He holds a strong resume of wins as well as a bright future ahead of him. That being said, he could definitely become the next big Russian superstar. I mean, he holds everything in the kit that could help him succeed in this way. He’s fast, consistent, and doesn’t back down against anyone, even against some of the greats like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Eventually, his talent could help him surpass former Russian superstars like Marat Safin and create a legacy of his own. Of course, he still has several years to look forward to so he’s going to have to take it one year at a time. Betting-wise, Karen Kachanov is going to be one of the best picks you can pick right now due to his young age and the extremely consistent results he’s produced. If you have to choose one player that’s on the come-up, I would highly suggest Karen.

Don’t sleep on Karen Kachanov. He’s going to become a top ten player next year, in my opinion. With significant time to prepare for his next tournament, we could see Karen Kachanov ascend his way to the top.

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