Surprise package Aslan Karatsev made history at the Australian Open on Tuesday by becoming the first man in the Open Era to make the semi-finals on his Grand Slam debut.
Dimitrov won the first set but became increasingly hampered by a back spasm and during the third and fourth sets was struggling to serve and move around the court.
He persevered to the end but there was no doubt about the outcome as Karatsev continued one of the most remarkable Grand Slam runs in history with a 2-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory.
Victory for Karatsev ensured he became the fifth qualifier to reach the last four of a men’s Grand Slam in the open era.
Aslan Karatsev since tennis resumed
F Prague Challenger I
W Prague Challenger II
W Ostrava Challenger
R2 St. Petersburg ATP 250
R2 Sofia ATP 250
R4 Australian Open (tbc) from qualifying
Now guaranteed to make his debut in top 50 at No 42 after reaching semi-finals
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The 27-year-old Russian has plied his trade in the lower reaches of the sport for his whole career, never breaking into the top 100, only to come through qualifying and storm through the draw at Melbourne Park.
Speaking on court, Karatsev said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling. It was really tough at the beginning for me to hold the nerves. I tried to find a way to playing the second set and then in the third set I saw he felt the back.”
A breakthrough of a lifetime #AusOpen | @AsKaratsev pic.twitter.com/eo2ZmGOfmv
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At 114 in the world, Karatsev is the lowest-ranked man to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam since Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon in 2001 while he is only the second qualifier to make the semi-finals in Melbourne after Bob Giltinan in 1977.
Karatsev is the fifth male qualifier to reach a Grand Slam singles SF in the Open Era and the first at the @AustralianOpen since [email protected] | #AusOpen
He also became the first man to reach the final four of a major from qualifying since Vladimir Voltchkov at Wimbledon 2000.
His scalps have included Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and now Dimitrov and, with both his potential semi-final opponents Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev also dealing with injuries, it is not impossible he could go further.
🎾 Aslan Karatsev's career prize money: US $618,354
🎾 Prize money for #AusOpen semi-finalist: US $662,696
“I try not to think about (that),” he said with a smile. “I try to play every match, going from match to match.”
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