Rising stars set for ASB Classic

Karen Khachanov. Photo: Getty Images
Karen Khachanov. Photo: Getty Images
The ASB Classic has confirmed two more hotshots to strengthen a field full of some of the world's best young players.

Fresh from impressive wins at the Next Gen ATP Finals this week, Russian Karen Khachanov and Korean Hyeon Chung have committed to play in Auckland in January.

They join the likes of 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who is widely considered one of the most exciting players to emerge since Rafael Nadal broke through in 2004.

Tournament director Karl Budge said the 21-year-old Khachanov, who is returning for a second year, might have flown under the radar a little but ``has strokes which hurt the opposition''.

``Guys like that tend to do well when it comes to the big tournaments and we are certainly very excited to see what he will offer in the future,'' Budge said.

The 1.98m athlete has been compared to the likes of Marat Safin and he broke into the world's top 30 for the first time in August, reaching five ATP quarterfinals and a semifinal in Halle where he played Roger Federer, who is reasonably handy with a racquet.

Khachanov made his first appearances at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open this year but it was the French Open where he announced himself as a future star by beating the likes of John Isner and Tomas Berdych.

He has a booming serve ``which is up there with the serves of [Jack] Sock and a touch behind Isner's''.

``But it is his forehand which dictates games. He can push guys a long way back in the court, and if he can do that he typically wins the match.''

Hyeon Chung. Photo: Getty Images
Hyeon Chung. Photo: Getty Images
Chung (21) has been rising steadily in the rankings and is really beginning to cement himself in his first full year on the ATP circuit.

``He has some massive wins under his belt against top-10 and top-20 level players.

``He has a mature head on his shoulders and hits a very hard and flat ball and that is always a good sign.''

Budge said the idea was to build relationship with promising younger players early in their careers and ultimately get them back if they went on to become household names.

``The last time we had this much excitement about a young group of players we were talking about Federer, [Lleyton] Hewitt, [Andy] Roddick and [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga.''

The ASB Classic men's tournament starts on January 8 and the women's tournament on January 1.

Add a Comment