THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. If you could play it again now, what would you do differently?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I would win (smiling).
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah, how. I think just today in the important moments, in the key moments, I played not right or maybe not good, and he played better than me in these situations. So that’s why actually the score went on his side 7-6, 7-6.
I think it was more about these important points, key points that I didn’t convert or I didn’t take it from my side.
Q. You see he’s injured. It’s hard to tell how much. Does that help or hinder you?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I mean, that’s not my business, but, you know, I don’t know if he’s injured or not injured. You know, I saw it during the match, but, you know, sometimes actually is also tough maybe to think — to try not to think about it, you know, because I want to keep playing my way. But then maybe some points he runs, and then on other points he struggles.
Yeah, it’s a little bit tougher mentally to play, but still I tried to focus on things that I was doing before, and then I could break him back and lead it to the tiebreak.
Q. You have played Rafa five times. You have yet to defeat Rafa. What makes him such a difficult opponent?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Honestly, I think because he has really answers on all possible shots, in my opinion. You know, he’s unbelievable in defense.
Then, you know, in some moments when you want to try maybe just to play more safe, then he suddenly steps in and, you know, he counterattacks. He steps in and then he starts moving you, and then you are again in trouble.
Basically I think he has kind of — and he improved his game in all surfaces. That’s why he’s actually winning in all the Grand Slams and all Masters 1000s, I think because he has answers on all kinds of shots. And you need to really select right and not miss opportunities when you have them.
Q. You mentioned a moment ago playing safe. When you’re playing someone like Rafa, how do you push yourself to stay out of that thought pattern?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Sorry. I didn’t understand. Not to play safe?
Q. Not to play safe.
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah, but also if you start, for example, to play super-aggressive then obviously maybe at one point you may start missing more. So that’s always a balancing question.
You have less than a second to decide what kind of shot you will do, you know, where you would like to play according to where he’s standing. So that’s really sometimes you take decisions really fast and automatically.
Sometimes, you know, I mean, that you have in your mind that you want to play, I don’t know, higher ball or you want to really smash it. So that always depends on the situation, I think.
Q. US Open match, similarly high level, tiebreaks, as well. Did that at all creep in your mind, maybe thinking, Okay, last time I tried this, and this time I’ll do this?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah, I think was kind of similar. Really close match. Not best-of-five sets, best of three. I started also pretty well, aggressive, leading with a break.
Yeah, there were some similarities in these matches. Just in the tiebreaks, I think, this time he played better, really.
Q. Anything from that match that you thought you took away and then you said you implemented well today, you think?
KAREN KHACHANOV: I think so. I mean, honestly, this match was good challenge for me, like, again, to play on good level, good rallies in general, good level of tennis.
And what did I take from last match? I tried to come to the net, for example, more. But again, sometimes you see he’s not coming to the ball, but then suddenly it’s a passing shot. You really need to choose and have good selection of shots when you want to approach the net. So I think I tried this more today.
For sure, serve was much better today. I mean, I was serving really with high percentage in the first set, and still I was broken, so…
Q. Is your experience overwhelmingly positive right now, even in spite of today?
KAREN KHACHANOV: Yeah, of course. Like I said, of course I’m disappointed that I lost again to him. I really wanted to beat him.
But on the other side, I’m taking it as a positive because, after last few tournaments, I’m playing much better, much better level in this match.
And I think it should bump me up even for the next tournaments and to keep improving and try to beat him next time. I mean, that’s the only thing we can do.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #366 at 2019-03-16 00:15:00 GMT