Penalty for Australian Open quarter-finalist? Nagorno-Karabakh in the background. “Provocation”
Nagorno-Karabakh, or Artsakh in English, formally belongs to Azerbaijan. It is inhabited mainly by Armenians, it functions in fact as an independent state, but it is not recognized by any other country. This is the territory for which, after the collapse of the USSR, there is a struggle that is weakening and intensifying. The conflict has been going on since the late 1980s. The region is striving for unification with Armenia, Azerbaijan does not intend to allow it. These countries have already fought three wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, which have not brought a resolution. Thanks to Russian mediation, there is currently a more or less respected ceasefire, although there are flashpoints every now and then.
In the name of the father
What does Karen Khachanov have to do with it? The father of the Russian Australian Open quarter-finalist Abgar comes from Armenia, and the player himself has been emphasizing his Armenian roots for years. And he is not going to avoid taking advantage of his background and the opportunities that professional sport and being a public figure give him. He does it, among others, during the Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne. According to representatives of Azerbaijan, in an absolutely unacceptable way.
The situation escalated when, after a third-round victory over Frances Tiafoe, the Tokyo Olympics silver medalist and last US Open semi-finalist was interviewed by Jim Courier. Then, when the player ended his stay on the court, he traditionally found himself in front of the camera to quickly smear a few words or a sign. And Khachanov wrote: Artsakh stay strong!!! (Arcach be strong!!!).
See the first situation that irritated Azerbaijan. It took place after an interview with Jim Courier.
But that was only the beginning, because after the fourth round meeting with Yoshihito Nishioka, the 26-year-old tennis player quickly wrote an even longer message. Keep believing all the way until the end!!! Artsakh stay strong!!! So believe until the very end!!! Keep it up Arc!!!
And this was met with a strong reaction from the ATF. The Baku federation described Khachanov’s actions as an unacceptable provocation against Azerbaijan. And she issued a statement that left no doubt what she was asking for.
“The Azerbaijan Tennis Federation condemns this incident and, in order to avoid a repetition, asks that the tennis player be punished and measures be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future,” it said.
How will it be in the match against Hurkacz’s conqueror?
ATF head Ogtay Asadov addressed the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpishchev, in which he asked him to take “hard steps” against Karen Khachanov. What that would mean has not yet been specified. The case is sensitive because it concerns tense relations between two hostile countries with one of the best Russian tennis players in the background. This problem cannot easily be silenced. And if the tennis player from Moscow continues to win – in the match of the quarter-finals he will face the slayer of Hubert Hurkacz Sebastian Korda – his message, if he continues it, may resound even stronger. And already there was a situation on the court where the controversial message barely fit on camera in Australia. And that’s what sparked such AFT protests. Whether they will prove effective, we will see in the coming hours. If not, they can go to a much higher level.
After the fourth round match, Khachanov again wrote words that were met with reaction from Baku. This time they barely fit on the camera pane.
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