Qualifier Aslan Karatsev looks to continue fairytale run

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2021 Australian Open

Men’s Singles Semifinal 1

Novak Djokovic v Aslan Karatsev

18 February 2021
Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

Russian Aslan Karatsev will look to continue his fairytale run in the 2021 Australian Open when he faces up to defending champion Novak Djokovic in the first of the Men’s Singles Semifinals, set for the Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park on Thursday 18 February 2021.

The 27-year-old has been the sensation of the tournament, coming through the qualifiers before defeating Gianluca Mager, Egor Gerasimov, Deiego Schwartzmann, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov to reach the semis in his first Grand Slam. He is the first player to achieve this feat in the Open era since Vladimir Voltchkov in the year 2000.

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic
Image copyright: Getty Images

"It's an unbelievable feeling,'' Karatsev said after his quarterfinal triumph over Dimitrov, who suffered from back spasms through the match. "Of course, it's first time. First time in main draw, first time semis. It's incredible.''

He added, "It was really tough in the beginning for me to hold my nerves. It was tricky. I tried to play in the second set, to find a way how to play."

On the prospect of facing Novak Djokovic, an eight-time winner of the Australian Open, Karatsev stated: “I try not to think about it. I’m going from match to match.”

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The defending champion Djokovic, meanwhile, has been struggling with an abdominal problem, but has nonetheless overcome Jeremy Chardy, Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Milos Raonic, before a tough 6-7 6-2 6-4 7-6 triumph over Alexander Zverev in the quarters.

The 33-year-old Serbian is chasing his 18thGrand Slam career title and looking to further entrench himself as the greatest Australian Open Men’s Singles player of all time, with his eight titles already two ahead of the legendary Roy Emerson on the all-time list.

In head-to-head terms, this will be the first-ever meeting of Novak Djokovic and Aslan Karatsev.

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Published: 02/18/2021