"I try to enjoy the moment and not thinking about it too much and playing from round to round," Aslan Karatsev said happily. It took the 27-year-old Russian-Israeli only one year to move from the ranking of 253 up to 111.
He might have moved around alot from Israel to Russian and somewhere's in Barcelona to sharpen his skills, but he knew this is the sport he wanted to do all his life. Karatsev didn't acquire a wild card to get into the main draw of the Australian Open.
He had to do it the harder way and qualify. He won all 3 of his rounds to gain entrance to the main draw of the Melbourne Slam. He had mentioned a serious knee injury which took a few years to heal but he nevre gave up hope. The main draw was filled with heavy contenders and the No.
8 ranked Diego Schwartzman was a handful. This was their first meeting and so no previous experiences with the Argentine was expected. But yet it was a total surprise to Karatsev as well as Schwartzman on the results of the match.
"He was playing amazing tennis. Too many winners. I saw 50 I think. I didn't serve well. He was playing better than me. He was moving well. Hitting well. He did everything better than me..." Schwartzman said describing Karatsev's performance against him.
It was a straight 3 set win 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, punctuated by Karatsev serving an ace down the tee to win the match. The score didn't detect the struggle and intensity that the Argentine went through to try and have a victory of the match.
It was amazing and unbelievable to the Russian-Israeli but his special talents were yet to come as he moved onto his fourth round with ATP's No. 19 Felix Auger-Aliassime. They've played twice before with Karatsev winning the first time two years ago at a Challenger event.
But his meet didn't go as the Canadian had planned. The Russian-Israeli won over the Canadian in a 5-set exhausting match. By dropping the first two sets, Karatsev just never gave up and struggled with giving full court volleys, down the lines and serving well to start his excellent run in the third set.
"It was tough to read his serve...I found the rhythm in the 3rd set and made him play more balls..." Karatsev commented on his own performance. But Felix Auger-Aliassime was just blown away on how Karatsev re-grouped saying "All credit to him...He played well.
He raised his level after the 2nd set. He started serving really well..." The Canadian was disheartened how he lost control of the match saying "On my part I started not serving as well...not hitting my targets...At some points he was just too good for me."
As the rounds progressed Karatsev's strategies and talents became more obvious
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov ranked no. 21 has been on tour for 13 years and has 8 career titles to his resume. He wasn't playing his best and was plagued with back spasms at the 4th round with the new sensation.
Dimitrov gave credit that Karatsev is improving greatly and has superior skills. "I had back spasms that we couldn't fix it in time and it was unstoppable, " the Bulgarian shook his head in despair. Dimitrov won the first set, but after that it was all Karatsev who tookt he following three sets.
"During the third set I could see it was his back..." Karatsev said of Dimitrov's condition. "I try to do my best with great belief," Aslan Karatsev says matter-of-factly about his performances at the Australian Open.
Next in the semifinal round he faces the No. 1 Novak Djokovic. This is their first time meeting but it may be the Russian-Israeli's biggest challenge yet. Who will be more surprised of the results? Djokovic or Aslan Karatsev? Time will tell.