The 27-year-old Aslan Karatsev has gained over 200 positions on the ATP ranking list since the season restarted last August, finding himself in the top-30 on Monday! Karatsev reached three consecutive Challenger finals last summer and won two titles to improve his position.
In January, Aslan qualified for his first Major tournament and turned it into one of the season's best tennis stories. After beating two lower-ranked opponents, Karatsev toppled Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov to become the first qualifier in a Major semi-final!
Novak Djokovic proved to be too strong for Aslan, but the Russian did enough to crack the top-50 and earn the wild card for the ATP 500 event in Dubai. Aslan scored six victories, including the one against world no. 8 Andrey Rublev, to claim the first ATP title and become the first Dubai champion who needed an invitation to enter the main draw.
In the final, Karatsev was too strong for Lloyd Harris, dominating on both serve and return to score a 6-3, 6-2 triumph and lift the first ATP trophy in style.
Aslan Karatsev praised Roger Federer.
After the victory, Aslan said that he loved to watch Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, who started winning matches when he was seven.
Impressed by Roger's longevity, Karatsev said that it's unbelievable to watch what the Swiss does on the court. Roger didn't play in Dubai after the quarter-final Doha exit, and Aslan will have a chance to play against his idol on clay or grass this spring.
"I always liked to watch Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi. At the time when I was growing up, there were fantastic matches between Agassi and Sampras. And Roger, when I was seven, he had already started winning.
It's unbelievable to watch what he does on the court. This title means a lot. It was a long journey from 18 years old when I stopped playing the juniors and turned pro. It took me ten years or more. It's a long journey, and I put in a lot of hard work.
There were many ups and downs. I also was injured during this time, so I'm thrilled that I recovered and was ready to compete again on that level," Aslan Karatsev said.