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Aslan Karatsev’s Remarkable Rise

Aslan Karatsev Australian Open

Aslan Karatsev caused a sizable shock by defeating Diego Schwartzman to advance to the fourth round of the 2021 Australian Open.

The 27-year-old Russian reached the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time after progressing through the Australian Open qualifying event in Doha last month.

Karatsev beat talented 19-year-old American Brandon Nakashima in three sets in the first qualifying round. He then saw off Max Purcell and Alexandre Muller for the loss of just six games.

The World #114 started his main draw major career with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win against Italian world #96 Gianluca Mager.

Karatsev followed that up with a crushing 6-0 6-1 6-0 victory against World #79 Egor Gerasimov in the second round. As impressive as that was, his next result hit greater heights altogether, given the calibre of his Argentine opponent.

In the third round, the Russian stunned the eighth seed Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 blasting 50 winners in an incredible display of ball striking.

Karatsev will face 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime–who beat fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in straight sets in the third round–on Sunday.

Aslan Karatsev Career Summary

Given his recent results and performances, it seems unusual that it has taken Karatsev until the age of 27 to make this breakthrough.

From 2013 to 2016, he won one ATP Challenger Tour title, and was a finalist in three other Challenger events. He also won three ITF Futures titles, and lost in one Futures final, in this period.

In 2015, he earned his first Tour-level win by defeating countryman Mikhail Youzhny as a qualifier in Moscow.

Karatsev’s progress was then halted by a serious knee injury, which kept him out for six months in 2017. The Russian found it difficult to get his confidence back after returning from that layoff.

He did, though, win three ITF Futures titles from December 2017 to January 2018 as he looked to rebuild his ranking – which had dropped outside the top 700 in 2017.

The 27-year-old started 2020 strong by reaching the final of the Bangkok Challenger–where he narrowly fell to Attila Balazs.

Karatsev was ranked #253 in the world when the Tour was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The Russian won 17 of 23 exhibition matches he played during the ATP suspension. He reaped the rewards when play resumed in August – with success on the Challenger circuit and ATP Tour.

After losing to Stan Wawrinka in the Prague Challenger final, Karatsev won events in Prague and Ostrava in the following two weeks, beating Tallon Griekspoor and Oscar Otte in the respective Challenger title matches.

He ended the year by winning 18 of his last 20 Challenger Tour matches, with an impressive 16 of those victories coming in straight sets.

Karatsev also reached the second round at the ATP tournaments in St Petersburg and Sofia, and climbed to a career-high ranking of #111 in November.

Karatsev’s Strengths

Karatsev plays an ultra aggressive brand of tennis and looks to dominate early in the rally with his power, whether serving or returning.

At 6’1″, Aslan Karatsev possesses a strong and accurate first serve and a good second serve. The Russian can effectively find wide angles, and can hit deliveries flat, or with slice and spin.

The 27-year-old’s baseline firepower is even more fearsome. He hits flat and with huge power off both sides – with his forehand being his most brutal and potent weapon.

On recent evidence, he also seems solid mentally–maintaining focus and composure well.

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