Home Sports Khachanov, victories with dedication to the Armenians of Nagorno Karaback. The Azeri government: “Be punished”

Khachanov, victories with dedication to the Armenians of Nagorno Karaback. The Azeri government: “Be punished”

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Khachanov, victories with dedication to the Armenians of Nagorno Karaback.  The Azeri government: “Be punished”

“Don’t forget your roots.” Those of Karen Khachanov, one of the semifinalists of the Australian Open, are Armenian. His passport, on the other hand, is Russian and this further complicates the situation. Not only because, as is well known, Russian and Belarusian tennis players were prevented from participating in Wimbledon last year, and today they can compete in the rest of the circuit as long as the flag does not appear next to their name. But also because the roots Karen refers to sink into the Republic of Artsakh – the name by which the Armenians claim a territory that coincides almost completely with Nagorno Karabakh, or rather the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan (we are in the southern Caucasus) where ethnic clashes have been going on for centuries and have flared up again and again since the early 1990s. In short, another political grain for tennis.

Lately the Armenians have been protesting because Azerbaijan would have imposed a blockade on the country and Karen – whose father Abgar, an excellent former volleyball player, is Armenian – had already expressed herself in the two previous meetings using the ‘dedications’ written on the glass as an amplifier of the camera at the end of the match. “Continue to believe it all the way. Artsakh, hold on!” And then: «Artsakh, be strong!».

The Azeri government obviously didn’t like it, and through its own tennis federation it wrote to the international one asking that the Russian Khachanov “be punished” for his “provocation” and the “dirty plans” he allegedly hides. What kind of punishment, however, is not known. For now, however, nothing has happened, and the interested party has also clarified that he has not received any warning from the Russian federation. “My Armenian roots go back to my father, my grandfather, and even my mother’s family,” KK explained. “I am half Armenian and just wanted to show support and give strength to my people. That’s all”.

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Khachanov was the earliest of the talents of the Russian new wave to get noticed, starring with Rublev and Medvedev in the first Next Gen edition in 2017; but when his childhood friends Andrey and Daniil started getting big, he stalled. Entered the top 10 in mid-2019, two years later he was out of the top 30. The farrier rights thrown with a truly extreme western grip, the services precipitated from his almost two meters in height no longer hurt his opponents so much. “Not everything went smoothly for me,” admitted Karen, who got married at a very young age, just 18, to a former training partner of his. “I had to deal with personal problems. To find myself, I allowed myself a trip to my origins, in Armenia (who knows if someone recommended the beautiful ‘Journey to Armenia’ by Osip Mandel’stam, the great Russian poet who died in a Stalinist concentration camp, ed.) where I spent a few days with my wife and son David. It was a beautiful experience. But I had never stopped believing in myself, and now I’m working well with my team».

The break is served. In 2022 Karen re-emerged, also reaching the semifinals of the US Open and recovering the top 20. In Melbourne, an assist to return to the top four of a Grand Slam was provided by the wrist injury suffered last night by Sebastian Korda (7- 6 6-3 3-0 the score at the time of the American’s retirement) and now he will find himself challenging Stefanos Tsitsipas who in the morning did not concede even a set to the young Czech Jiri Lehecka (6-3 7-6 6-4) . If our friend Rublev were to do the feat in the quarterfinals against Djokovic, and then also win against whoever comes out of the US derby between Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul, we could in short have an all-Russian final: without flags and without anthems. But with predictable aftermath.

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The diplomatic ‘case’ could double in the women’s category, where a semifinal is already set between the Belarusian Victoria Azarenka (winner 6-4 6-1 over Jessica Pegula) and the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Kazakh by passport but Russian by birth, family and tennis training; while the other Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka could slip into the other. In short, the game is played at the antipodes, but geopolitics and the echoes of the wars of the Old World are not even silent over there.

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