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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday March 19, 2021

Aslan Karatsev

Russian's Aslan Karatsev is following through on his Australian Open success. He defeated Andrey Rublev to reach the Dubai final on Friday.

Photo Source: Getty Images

Aslan Karatsev’s improbable rise continues in Dubai.

The 27-year-old Russian who sent shockwaves through Melbourne when he became the first player to ever reach a semifinal on his Grand Slam main draw debut (and also became the first ATP qualifier to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal since 2000), has defeated World No.8 Andrey Rublev, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, to reach his first career final.

The Russian will face South Africa's Lloyd Harris for the title on Saturday.

Tennis Express

Karatsev becomes the first wild card to reach the Dubai final since 1999, and he earns his best career win against No.8-ranked Rublev. To make the story even more enticing, Karatsev snapped Rublev’s much-heralded 23-match winning streak at ATP-500 matches.

Remarkably, Karatsev struck 41 winners to just 21 for Rublev. The Russian said it was his plan to get on the attack against his compatriot, early and often.

“I don’t know how many winners he did, but the plan was to play more aggressive, because once you step back he starts to move you on the court and from that position you have no chance to get out. I tried to play more aggressive, serving big, and it happened that I won the match," he said.

Karatsev was able to earn 16 break points from Rublev, and convert four of those.

He hit 17 backhand winners to just one for Rublev.

Thing got dicey for Karatsev in the final set after he opened up a double break lead at 5-2. He was broken serving for the match and then faced a few break points on his second attempt at serving it out. But he hung tough to finish off the impressive victory in two hours and 12 minutes.

Rublev drops to 16-3 on the season. He has now lost eight consecutive matches against Russian competition, a streak that dates back to his only victory over a compatriot in 2017 over Mikhail Youzhny.

Karatsev, who broke into the Top 100 for the first time after his success in Australia, will rise to a projected ranking of 33 with his final appearance. He could climb inside the Top 30 with a title.

Karatsev has played just 26 career matches at ATP level; he was 3-10 in ATP matches before the start of the season (now 14-12).


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