No one really knew the name Aslan Karatsev going into the Australian Open, but they sure do now. The 27-year-old Russian has blown past four opponents in Melbourne to reach the quarterfinals.
It's long overdue for everyone to learn more about him:
Ranked No. 114, Karatsev had to come through qualifying in Doha to earn a place in the main draw. The Australian Open marks his first ever Grand Slam main draw, having lost 10 times in qualifying.
His 2021 began with qualifying, but he played one event before the main draw: the ATP Cup. With Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev playing singles, Karatsev competed in doubles with Rublev. They lost all three matches they played, though Russian won the title.
While he's newcomer to the Grand Slam stage, Karatsev has won a lot at the ITF level and ATP Challenger level (10 ITF and three ATP Challenger crowns). In 2020, he picked up his biggest career titles back to back at ATP Challenger 125 events in Prague and Ostrava.
Limited Top-level Experience
He earned his first-ever ATP-level win in 2015, in Moscow over veteran Mikhail Youzhny. He wouldn't get his second ATP win until 2020, over Tennys Sandgren in St. Petersburg. The 27-year-old had just three total ATP wins in nine career tournament appearances going into the Australian Open.
Karatsev is the first Grand Slam debutant to reach a quarterfinal since Alex Radulescu at Wimbledon 25 years ago in 1996. Regardless of what happens next, Karatsev will achieve a career-high ranking inside of the Top 70. His career-high ranking before this was No. 111.
Domination in Melbourne
In his first three rounds in Melbourne, Karatsev lost just 20 games with wins over Gianluca Mager, Egor Gerasimov and No. 8-seeded Diego Schwartzman.
After going down by two sets to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, Karatsev bounced back for a 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win.
He will next face the winner of Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov.