Kicking off the season with three ATP wins under his belt, the 27-year-old Russian Aslan Karatsev is through to a Major quarter-final on his big scene debut in Melbourne! Aslan gained momentum on the Challenger Tour in the last season's closing stages and shifted that form into 2021 to win all seven singles matches of the season so far!
Karatsev secured the first Major main draw in January and used it with both hands, beating four rivals in Melbourne to become the first Major quarter-finalist on a debut since Alex Radulescu at Wimbledon 1996! Aslan overpowered Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth-round thriller, trailing two sets to love before scoring a 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and 25 minutes.
Last week, the young Canadian lost his seventh consecutive ATP final without winning a set, bouncing back at the Australian Open to beat three rivals before experiencing another setback today. Auger-Aliassime played on a high level in sets one and two, stealing the Russian's serve five times and marching towards the victory before Karatsev took charge to claim the next three sets and extend his historical Australian Open campaign.
Karatsev won four points more than the youngster, with five breaks on each side and the crucial one on Aslan's racquet early in the deciding set. Felix broke Aslan twice in a row in the opening set's early stages and forged a 4-1 advantage with a forehand winner after 21 minutes.
The youngster defended three break chances in the seventh game and closed the set with a service winner at 5-3.
Aslan Karatsev came from two sets to love down vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Doing everything right so far, Auger-Aliassime cracked the rival's serve thrice in a row in set number two for 6-1, moving closer to the finish line and hoping to seal the deal in the third.
Struggling to find his strokes, Karatsev netted a forehand in the fifth game to fall 4-1 behind and lost serve again at 1-5 following a shaky volley that sent Felix miles in front in under 70 minutes! Like starting a different match, Aslan left the previous two sets behind him and imposed his strokes in the third, dropping only four points behind the initial shot and securing two breaks for a comeback.
The Russian broke at love in game five and repeated that at 5-3 to secure the set and gain a boost ahead of the fourth. Felix wasted small chances on deuces in games one and three before spraying a forehand error in game four to fall behind.
World no. 114 served well by the end of the set and closed it with an ace at 5-3 to force a decider and become the favorite. The final set was by far the most extended one, and Karatsev moved in front with a break at love in game three.
The Russian received enough fuel to carry himself over the top from there, producing four fine holds and holding in love in game ten with a forehand down the line winner to advance into the quarter-final on his Major debut.