Australian Open semi-finalist Karen Khachanov accused of ‘hateful’ message

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Karen Khachanov defended himself Tuesday after his assist on the Australian Open for a contested Armenian enclave sparked a strongly worded grievance from Azerbaijan tennis officers.

The Russian, who has Armenian roots, wrote a message on a tv digicam lens after his fourth-round win at Melbourne Park that mentioned: “Hold believing till the very finish. Artsakh, maintain on!”

In a earlier spherical, the semi-finalist wrote: “Artsakh keep robust.”

They had been referencing the contested area of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan over which Baku and Yerevan have fought two wars.

“I’ve Armenian roots. From my father’s facet, from my grandfather’s facet, even from my mum’s facet. I’m half-Armenian,” he mentioned after reaching the semi-finals, with an Armenian flag seen in Rod Laver Area.

“To be sincere, I don’t need to go deeper than that and I simply wished to point out energy and assist to my folks. That’s it.”

In a letter posted on-line, the Azerbaijan Tennis Federation mentioned it had protested to Australian Open organisers and the Worldwide Tennis Federation (ITF).

It demanded he be “punished” with “harsh measures”.

“The Azerbaijan Tennis Federation (ATF) has despatched a letter of protest to the Worldwide Tennis Federation concerning the provocation towards Azerbaijan on the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam,” the message learn.

“Karen Khachanov, a Russian athlete of Armenian origin, who reached the 1/16 finals within the males’s competitors, attracted consideration along with his hateful act. Thus, after claiming 3:1 victory over his American rival Frances Tiafoe, Khachanov wrote ‘Artsakh keep robust’ on the digicam as his heartfelt phrases.

“The Azerbaijan Tennis Federation letter offered info and authorized paperwork concerning the provocation towards Azerbaijan. The ATF condemned this act and demanded the tennis participant be punished and urged the Worldwide Tennis Federation to take harsh measures for prevention of such incidents sooner or later.”

Khachanov mentioned he was not conscious of the letter and had not been advised to cease his post-match messages “thus far”.

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