“Wasn’t Thinking”: Aslan Karatsev Opens Up on Saving 23 Breakpoints in Freak Win Over Novak Djokovic

Published 04/25/2021, 12:24 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his second round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


The unthinkable happened on Saturday as World No.1 Novak Djokovic slipped on home turf!

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Late-bloomer Aslan Karatsev, who went from a qualifier at this year’s Australian Open to winning his maiden Tour title in Dubai, produced a performance for the ages to avenge his semi-final defeat to the Serb at Melbourne Park.

The marathon cash was dotted with many incredible moments and stats, but the one that stood out in the end was that the Russian saved a staggering 23 breakpoints to turn the match in his favor.

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Novak Djokovic could convert only 5 of his 28 breakpoint opportunities against Aslan Karatsev

Djokovic didn’t just slump to his first defeat in Serbia since 2005 but also tripped on clay for the second time in as many tournaments after losing to Dan Evans in the pre-quarters at Monte-Carlo.

At over three hours, it was, by far, the longest Tour match recorded this year and surely one of the longest in history.

Rarely has a player lost a tennis match after creating as many as 28 breakpoint opportunities.

However, more than the number of chances he had to take a firm hold of the last-eight clash, it was the conversion rate that made for sorrier reading.

Djokovic could only convert 5 of his 28 chances to break the Russian’s serve.

Aslan Karatsev won a whopping 100% points off his second serve

Karatsev fared much better on this score, capitalizing on 6 of his 16 breakpoint opportunities.

They say numbers don’t lie, and another tell-tale piece of statistics that attested to the Russian’s flawless service game was that he won a remarkable 100% points off his second serve.

He also nailed 95% of his first serves to 91% of the reigning Australian Open champion.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2021 Russia’s Aslan Karatsev reacts during his third round match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Speaking courtside after his phenomenal win, Karatsev said his mind went blank as the match wore on. 

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Asked what was playing through his mind when he faced and saved as many breakpoints as he did, the 27-year-old Russian said he wasn’t thinking and simply focusing on his game instead.

“I wasn’t thinking (at) that moment. I was just trying to play, focus on my game. There was no time to think,” Karatsev said.

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DIVE DEEPER

PHENOMENAL: Novak Djokovic Stunned By Aslan Karatsev on His Home Ground of Serbian Open 2021

6 months ago

In all honesty, there wasn’t much in the game that made for sensible reading but what it did was throw up a deserving winner in the Russian, in the end.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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