If at the start of the Australian Open in 2021 there was a man who set himself the task of purposefully placing bets on the matches of a Russian tennis player Aslana Karatseva, now he is rubbing his hands with pleasure.
Thunderstorm of authorities
The first Grand Slam tournament of the season became the finest hour of the Russian. Having started in Australia with qualification in the rank of the 114th racket of the world, Karatsev with a heavy tank walked through more titled rivals.
Journalists following the Australian Open are already running out of epithets to describe what a guy nicknamed “Lionheart” is doing.
Let us remind once again the phrase that Aslan said in his interview to Sport-Express last fall: “To begin with, my goal is to compete in the main draw of the Australian Open. Then – get into the top 50, and then – into the top 20. I believe that in terms of the game I am not inferior to the guys who are higher in the rating. My problems were more in my head, and I’m working on it. “
Playing at the Australian Open, the 27-year-old athlete confirms his right: he really is not inferior to those who are higher in the ranking.
After the Russian defeated the ninth racket of the world of the Argentine Diego Schwartzman (6: 3, 6: 3, 6: 3), and then snatched victory from a young Canadian talent in a five-set duel Felix Auger-Aliassim (3: 6, 1: 6, 6: 3, 6: 3, 6: 4), he made it to the quarterfinals.
Dimitrov is not a joke
Before the meeting with the 21st racket of the world Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov most experts, one way or another, came to the conclusion that this time Karatsev would lose. Well, simply because what is happening is too similar to a fairy tale and one day it should be replaced by harsh everyday life.
Well, really, a person who has played in second-rank tournaments for most of his career cannot suddenly turn into an invincible monster. Well, one sensation, well, another, but it can’t go on forever ?!
Moreover, Dimitrov is the most successful tennis player in the history of Bulgaria, reaching the third line in the world ranking. In addition to the fact that Grigor once met with Maria Sharapova, he has significant tennis successes: 8 won ATP tournaments, including a victory in the 2017 ATP Final Tournament, as well as reaching the semifinals of three of four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open).
In the 4th round of the current Australian Open, Dimitrov smashed the third racket of the world Dominica Tim from Austria – 6: 4, 6: 4, 6: 0. This success allowed the experts to talk about the Bulgarian as one of the main contenders for the overall victory.
Karatsev, on the other hand, climbed so far that, according to experts, the attention riveted to him should have nailed him psychologically. To say that no one believed in Aslan before the quarterfinals would probably be an exaggeration, but the overwhelming majority were sure that even one set taken from a representative of Bulgaria would be a success for him.
Aslan started the match well, took the opponent’s serve in the third game, but then began to concede and lost six games in a row at once. At the pitch of the Bulgarian, the struggle practically did not start, but the Russian constantly had problems on his balls.
Nevertheless, having lost the first set with a score of 2: 6, Karatsev gradually began to come to his senses. And Dimitrov, feeling the growing resistance, began to make mistakes more and more often. The key was the 9th game on Grigor’s serve, which Aslan managed to snatch in a bitter struggle. Then he took his serve dry, putting an end to the second set – 6: 4.
“This is a surprise for me”
For Dimitrov, this was a clear blow, and he became nervous. And when in the third game Karatsev again took the opponent’s serve, the Bulgarian simply broke down. The Russian took the draws almost without a fight, winning the set in less than half an hour – 6: 1. Dimitrov requested a medical time-out, but it cannot be said that the help of doctors helped him especially. He continued to fight, but it was obvious that Karatsev retains dominance. At the same time, Aslan’s play was not ideal, and the number of unforced errors remained high. Nevertheless, this did not stop to bring the fourth set to a victory with a score of 6: 2.
After the end of the fight, Dimitrov said: “There is no point in hiding anything. Problems started yesterday while driving. Then they repeated at the beginning of the match, it got worse, now it was impossible. It was Karatsev’s day. Now let’s move on, that’s the sport. “
The Russian answered the journalists’ questions about his feelings as follows: “The next opponent? I approach every match step by step, I don’t look ahead. How would you react if you said before the start of the tournament that I would be in the semifinals? I would just smile. This is a surprise for me. Of course, I worked very hard, but I couldn’t. “
Russian final is still possible
Meanwhile, statisticians were digging through reference books, trying to understand what other records the Russian had broken. It is known for certain that he is the first athlete in more than 50 years to make it to the semifinals in his first Grand Slam tournament.
Karatsev also became the player with the lowest rating, who over the past 20 years managed to reach the semifinals of the Grand Slam tournament. And Aslan has earned more prize money in one current tournament than in his entire previous tennis career.
Taking into account that in one of the remaining quarterfinals they will meet Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, for the first time two Russians will play in the semifinals of the Australian Open. And the Russian final of the Australian Open-2021, in the likelihood of which only a fantasy lover could believe a week ago, has now become a little more realistic.
Whoever went to Karatsev in the semifinals is even a great Serb Novak Djokovic, though just the winner of 13 ATP tournaments German Alexander Zverev, the Russian will still remain an outsider. It’s only after all that Aslan has done at the tournament, even the favorite’s knees can tremble. The semi-finals are scheduled for February 18 and 19, and these days Russian tennis fans will definitely not be bored.
Show must go on!