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November 4, 2018

Karen Khachanov

Paris, France

K. KHACHANOV/N. Djokovic

7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. First of all, congratulations. And for the first games, it was apparently more a question of first serve and forehand for you and he broke you. Then you kind of stepped up with your whole game all of a sudden and you kept that level there. Is it this way you prepared in a way and then you changed it?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I mean, first of all, I think Novak started with a really, really high intensity also. I mean, I knew that that's normal the way he's playing from the beginning, like moving you left, right, left, right.

And it's sometimes tough to resist, and maybe I did a couple of mistakes and he was on me. And after, like you said, a few games after, I could increase my level of the game. Again, my intensity, I step in more inside the court. I started to move him and maybe he didn't expect that I could do it after being down, you know, 3-1 with a break.

Q. Congratulations for your win. You went to the net many times. It was a tactic you studied with your coach?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I mean, one thing that with Novak you cannot just go to the net because he has unbelievable passing shots. You have to really prepare your coming through. You have to really sort out the right shots when you can step in and go to the net.

So of course, the best scenario if I'm hitting left-right and I'm coming to the net with a shorter ball, sometimes it was not possible, but sometimes I did it really well.

But in general, my game is aggressive and I have to try to step in more and to play the way I played, actually.

Q. How do you feel? Is it a huge achievement?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah, very good. Thank you. And you how are you?

Q. Oh, great.

Q. But more importantly is you. Because you didn't feel like it's a huge achievement. It's a normal way to bigger step?
KAREN KHACHANOV: No. I mean, it's not normal, of course. It's one of my biggest titles so far, biggest achievement. And in general, it's a breakthrough season. And this title, it's a good year-end, like this I would say. And maybe I'm not crying, but still I'm really happy.

Q. Following on from that, after this kind of great indoor season you've had, aside from winning what are you most happy about I guess in yourself or your game?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah. Okay, first of all, I'm happy with the way I'm playing. I mean, match by match I was increasing my level. I think that's what I showed against all the top 10 guys. I mean, today was Novak, the one who is No. 1 in the world. That's the first thing.

The second thing is after some tough loses against top guys like Rafa, you know, in New York, I think they push me to the limit and, like, even to work more harder. And I saw that my level is there. I could play and compete on this level. So it was a matter of just a few points.

And if I continue to do the same things what I was doing and the way I was playing with the guys like Rafa, okay, before, I mean, Novak also, against top guys, it would bring me at one point and it will turn around on my side. So I was really believing in this, and actually that's what I've got.

Q. The first Russian to win here since Nikolay Davydenko in 2006, and prior to that Marat Safin won his third title in 2004 when you were eight. Do you remember watching any of that? Do you remember watching those players? And what does it mean to join someone like Marat Safin, having won here?
KAREN KHACHANOV: At the age of eight, honestly, I don't remember if I was watching some matches after. Actually, when I was older I watched most of his matches, and I remember some matches in Bercy against Philippoussis. It was earlier even against Hewitt, I think. Stefan I think he played here; right?

And yeah, I watched these matches but later, not at the age of eight.

And the same Davydenko. I'm just really proud of myself that I could be in this list of winners with this trophy.

Q. Congratulations. You speak of how someone like Djokovic inspires you. What is it that they do apart from win, of course?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I mean, you're asking about Novak or in general?

Q. Yeah, because you said on court that he's an inspiration you would like to try and get towards his achievements.
KAREN KHACHANOV: All achievements what he did, it's not a secret, to win as many titles as he did in his career. The biggest trophies, the way he's on the court, outside the court. He's one of the best tennis players. That's no secret about it. And no arguments. He's in the lineup with Rafa, Novak, Roger, you know, of course.

And the champions like him, you know, how many titles he won, how he was going through tough moments last year, and come back to world No. 1. So that's really an inspiration, I think not only for me but for a lot of tennis players.

Q. Can you talk about your ratio in finals, you're 4-0, which is an amazing stat, 100% victories in finals. How do you feel about putting Russian tennis back on the map on 1000s? Because the last time was over ten years ago or over.
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah. Okay. I didn't play still so many finals but it's a good stat I would say. 4-0, I mean, it's impressive.

Honestly, it was in back of my mind even when I was going today on the biggest final, like, let's say in Masters 1000 against Novak. Still I was thinking, Okay, he has, I don't know, 70, 80 titles. But I have three. But 3-0, you know? So maybe it was in the back of my mind.

And the second thing, actually two weeks ago I won in Moscow. It was the same. I mean, the last Russian guy who won there was also nine years ago. So this tournament is the same. I mean, I'm proud to be the next Russian guy who won this title and to be in the list with the other best tennis players on this trophy.

Q. Obviously a lot of people have been talking about Novak's comeback to the top of the ranking last month. But when you went into Wimbledon you were around 40 in the world. What didn't work before or what clicked after that and what does it mean for the next season since you're defending less points in the first part of the season and you're top 10 now? So you have to change your preparation maybe?
KAREN KHACHANOV: First of all, you ask about first part of the season, but I would say still I was doing well. I mean, I was higher I think than the 40. I was like around 30-something. And I did fourth round in both Grand Slams like Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and in both of them I lost to top guys. I think it's still very positive tournaments for me. And I won Marseille at the beginning of the year.

So still I was doing well. I think not like amazing but really, really well season. And then I rest. We had again preparation for the hard court for the second part of the year for American swing.

And yeah, I just kept doing, kept playing better and better, I think. More consistent. That's the first thing, I think, to be closer to top 10 and to finish top 10, you need to play really consistent season.

And that's what I'm happy and proud of about preparation. I mean, it's not like something different will be. I have to continue to work the same way. I think if I did this year that I'm 11, I think I have to do the same or even better to be better next year.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've always seemed like one of the more low-key guys of the young group. The more you win, the more attention you're going to get. So do you like attention?
KAREN KHACHANOV: You are wrong. By the way, you said "lucky"?

Q. Low key.
KAREN KHACHANOV: Low key. Then you're right (laughing).

Okay. Yeah, I don't mind about this attention. I mean, you have to deal with the pressure always I think on every stage. Again, if you think about top guys, how they are doing when they go on court, for example, like Novak went on the court with me, he's favorite still and you have to deal with this pressure. And in most of the situations and matches, they deal with it.

So, I mean, it's work. It's a homework that I have to do. And with experience I think it will come.

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