‘An Incredible Feeling’ Aslan Karatsev Reacts To Historic Win Over Injured Dimitrov At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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‘An Incredible Feeling’ Aslan Karatsev Reacts To Historic Win Over Injured Dimitrov At Australian Open

Prior to this year, the world No.114 has never played in the main draw of a Grand Slam and now he is in the semi-finals.

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Russian underdog Aslan Karatsev has rewritten the record books after beating an injured Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

 

The 27-year-old qualifier valiantly battled back from a set down to stun the former top 10 player 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, in what is his first ever Grand Slam main draw tournament. Although the win was overshadowed by the health of his opponent who struggled with a back injury throughout the last two sets and looked at one stage to be on the verge of retirement. Besides the physical woes of Dimitrov, Karatsev continued to produce some inspired tennis as he hit 34 winners en route to a historic victory.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s my first time playing in a (Grand Slam) main draw and now first time in the semis, incredible,” the world No.114 said during his on-court interview.
“It was a really tough one at the beginning for me to hold my nerves and it was really tricky. Then I tried to find a way to play in the second set and then in the third set he (Dimitrov) felt the back.”

Initially Karatsev was on his back footing against Dimitrov after dropping the opening set in just 34 minutes before facing a series of break points during the second. However, he managed to battle back by breaking twice to level the set at one-all before it became apparent that there was a physical issue bothering his opponent.

Throughout the third frame Dimitrov struggled with his movement on the court and was unable to serve at full speed. Enabling the 27-year-old qualifier to run away with the match with the help of some world class shot-making. During a medical time out Dimitrov confirmed that he had a spasm in his back which started yesterday and received treatment prior to the match.

The encounter was as much of a mental test for Karatsev who also had to contend with having to play somebody who was visibly injured. Nevertheless, it didn’t derail him from his game plan as he continued to hit some thunderous shots. A Dimitrov forehand error granted him another break to move 3-1 up in the fourth set and close in on a remarkable win. From that stage on it was only a matter of time before the Russian sealed the historic triumph. As Dimitrov served to stage in the match four games later, two return winners from Karatsev secured him the victory.

“I’m surprised that I am here. There was a lot of work done beforehand and I will just keep playing every match,” Karatsev told Eurosport.
“There were some tricky games and I tried to focus on myself, play my game and not see what was happening with Grigor.

Ranked 114th in the world Karatsev has become the first man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final on their debut in the Open Era and only the second qualifier to have ever done so at the Australian Open. The first was Nicolas Escude in 1998. He is also the lowest ranked man to reach the last four at Melbourne Park since Patrick McEnroe in 1991.

The victory means that there will be two Russian men in the semi-finals of a major for only the third time in the Open Era. Daniil Medvedev plays Andrey Rublev in an all-Russian quarter-final encounter on Wednesday. As for Karatsev, he will next face the challenge of taking on either Novak Djokovic or Alexander Zverev.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” he said about the upcoming clash. “I am thinking about playing match-by-match.”

Karatsev has won nine Challenger titles in his career, including two last year.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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