His is the most beautiful as well as an incredible fairytale of 2021. At the return of post-pandemic tennis, he was over 240 in the rankings, and on Monday, he entered the top 30 in the world. Aslan Karatsev continues to surprise and after the semifinal at the Australian Open he also obtained the first title in his career, the victory at the Atp 500 in Dubai.
— Dubai Tennis Champs (@DDFTennis) March 20, 2021
To achieve this success the 28 year old Russian has beaten several opponents, first of all Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals and especially his compatriot Andrey Rublev in the semifinals of the tournament.
After the victory Aslan gave a big interview to Kommersant
– On your way to the Dubai title you won four of your six matches, including the semifinals against Andrey Rublev, in three games. Would you say that the final, which lasted only 75 minutes, was still the most psychologically difficult match for you?
– Yes. Because any final is a special, last game in the tournament and you set yourself up for it differently. Today you could see that the responsibility was pressing on Harris a little more than usual. And I clamped down at times, but managed to handle it.
– Did you have to adjust tactically after the game with Rublev?
– Andrey’s game is well known. Everyone knows how he gets to the right. That’s why, when you meet Rublev, you have to try to dominate. You’ve got no other option, because if you start softening up, he’ll try to push you around and you’ll end up in a losing position.
But in the final game against Harris, I was faced with a slightly different challenge. It was more important to keep the ball in play, be as aggressive as possible. That’s the plan I stuck to.
Your Top 10 in the @FedEx ATP Rankings:
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 22, 2021
– In the last twelve months you’ve made phenomenal progress, moving up in the standings from 253rd to 27th. Can you remember where you were a year ago and what you were thinking about?
– I was playing my last tournament before the pandemic, the Challenger in Kazakhstan. I got to the quarterfinals and then the tournament was interrupted and never finished. On the whole I already had a good game and gained confidence. I felt I was ready to give a result. After that I just kept in shape for two and a half months and then I went to America for a month and a half to play exhibition tournaments and train at the same time. That allowed me to go to the Challengers in the Czech Republic in August where I played three tournaments in a row and won two of them. Although I didn’t reach the dream of breaking into the Top 100 that I set last year because I played poorly at ATP tournaments. I had to qualify for the Australian Open but it helped me a lot. I also improved at the ATP Cup in Melbourne in early February. I had a chance to try playing in a big stadium.
– You made great progress at the age of 27, which is very mature for a tennis player, when some are already thinking about quitting. Do you see any pluses in it?
– To be honest, I don’t know what could be the plus side. Of course, I would have liked to do the same thing sooner. The only big plus is the fact that I did not break down, that I continued to work after the injury. So I’m glad that at least now I was able to play at this level.
– Do you consider competition with Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov an engine of your progress or don’t you pay any attention to it?
– Of course, I want to be closer to the guys. I think it’s good, healthy competition that gives you extra motivation to work. It’s absolutely normal to push each other. It’s a sport.
– Where would you like to be in the rankings at the end of the year?
– In Australia, I said, that so far I’ve set the bar high for myself at the top twenty.
– What do you think of your chances in Miami next year given the fact that not only Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, but also 26 other American players from the Top 100 withdrew for different reasons?
– Yes, I heard that some of the top players won’t be in Miami. But you have to play your best against anybody to win. Plus I need to take a couple of days off first and get as much rest as possible after Dubai. There’s not much time left before Miami. I’m going to start on March 24 and I have a long flight and a different time zone ahead of me. I’ll try to play my best in every match and then we’ll see what happens.