Karatsev Makes History With Australian Open Semis Run

Aslan Karatsev (photo: Tennis Australia)

MELBOURNE/STARNBERG, February 16, 2021

Aslan Karatsev became the first man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals on his Grand Slam debut and just the second qualifier to reach the last four at the Australian Open, joining Bob Giltinan, who accomplished the feat Down Under in 1977. The 27-year-old Russian defeated No. 18 seed Grigor Dimitrov from Bulgaria 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

After a slow start, Karatsev improved his level of play against a physically ailing Dimitrov, hitting 34 winners to secure victory after two hours and 32 minutes.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Of course it’s my first time playing [a Grand Slam] main draw, first time [in the] semis,” Karatsev said in his on-court interview. “It’s incredible.”

Dimitrov took a medical time-out off court after the third set and attempted to battle through an apparent back injury. The former World No. 3 did not retire but his condition did not improve enough for him to keep the match close in the final two sets.

“It was really tough from the beginning for me to hold the nerves. It was really tricky,” Karatsev said. “I tried to find a way how to play and then in the third set he felt the back.” 

By reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in Melbourne, the Russian is guaranteed a minimum prize money cheque of at least $662,000, more than his total career winnings of approximately $618,000.

Challenger titles and ATP Cup champion

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.

Less than two weeks ago, the current World No. 114, who will crack the Top 50 after the Australian Open, was a member of Russia’s ATP Cup-winning team alongside Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and playing captain Evgeny Donskoy. During the trophy ceremony, Medvedev referred to Karatsev as their team’s “secret weapon”.

Up next for Karatsev will be the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal between top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia and fifth seed Alexander Zverev from Germany.