Karatsev Continues Dream Run At Australian Open

Aslan Karatsev (photo: Tennis Australia)

MELBOURNE/STARNBERG, February 14, 2021

Aslan Karatsev has become the first Grand Slam debutant to reach the quarterfinals since Alex Radulescu at 1996 Wimbledon and the first qualifier to reach the stage of the final eight at a major since Bernard Tomic at 2011 Wimbledon by knocking out No. 20 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in the fourth round of the Australian Open with an impressive 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory.

The World No. 114 struck 37 winners and capitalized on five of his 14 break-point chances to prevail after three hours and 25 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

“It was really difficult in the beginning to play with him. He’s a really good player and was playing really fast and it took me two sets to find my rhythm,” Karatsev said after his win on Sunday.

“I put everything into this match and I’m really happy.”

The 27-year-old from Vladikavkaz, one of three Russians alongside Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev who reached the last 16 this year, had failed on nine previous occasions to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam.

Karatsev was outside of the Top 250 in March last year, but following the suspension of the ATP Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he won 18 of his final 20 matches on the ATP Challenger Tour and captured back-to-back titles in the Czech Republic, winning the Prague Open as well as the Ostrava Open.

“I didn’t expect it. I don’t know the secret but I played a lot of exhibition matches in the United States preparing maybe better than others in the end. I focused on my game and did the fitness there,” Karatsev told Tennis TourTalk after lifting the trophy in Ostrava in early September. He will crack the Top 100 for the first time.

Dimitrov upsets Thiem

Here in Melbourne, Karatsev will next take on No. 18 seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who edged out No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem. The reigning US Open champion from Austria battled back from two sets down to beat Nick Kyrgios on Friday but appeared devoid of energy in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 defeat on Sunday. Dimitrov prevailed in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena.

“I thought I kept the ball rolling and was trying to focus on my game plan,” said Dimitrov. “I stayed focused and composed throughout the match. I am very happy to be in the quarter-finals. I thought I had great preparation coming into the tournament and wanted to pace myself, working hard off the court. Dominic is an extraordinary player and I enjoy playing against him.”

“I think a combination of a few things, some little physical issues, plus a real bad day, plus the fact that he’s a great player,” said Thiem. “If he’s on, he’s super tough to play, especially in faster conditions than now, and I really wish that he can make a great breakthrough at a Grand Slam. He would definitely deserve it.”