World No. 114 Aslan Karatsev will be leaving Melbourne in positive spirits despite an Australian Open semifinal loss suffered to No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic. Karatsev, who won three qualifying matches to earn a place in the Australian Open main draw, couldn't stun Djokovic on Thursday as the Serb won 6-3 6-4 6-2.
En route to making his maiden Grand Slam semifinal, Karatsev beat Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov. "It was a great two weeks for me, start with the qualies. It's a good experience. Yeah, to play against Novak, it helps me to get this experience, to feel the game, the way how he's playing," Karatsev said, per Ravi Ubha.
Djokovic praised Karatsev
After beating Karatsev, Djokovic acknowledged the Russian's big campaign at Melbourne Park. "We need to give him a hand. Huge congratulations to him on his debut, he reached semi-finals.
I don't think it happened in the history of tennis so well done to him. He played a great tournament," Djokovic said, per George Bellshaw. Djokovic, who is aiming to win his ninth Australian Open title, was satisfied with his level of play against Karatsev.
"I felt as best as I felt so far in the tournament tonight,” Djokovic said. “Physically, mentally. I was hitting the ball very well, mixing the pace. [I] didn't give him the same looks at all. [I] always kind of kept him guessing and served well when I needed to get out of trouble, late in the second set.
“I'm just very pleased with the performance. It came at the right time, before [the] last match in a Grand Slam [tournament]. Being in this situation many times [before] I think helps kind of gather all the necessary elements for me to peak at the right time, which is happening again.
I'm obviously very happy about. I'm also happy that I have two days off now. Recovery is still the priority”.