Qualifier Aslan Karatsev Upsets Felix Auger-Aliassime to Reach Maiden Grand Slam Quarterfinals at Australian Open 2021

Published 02/14/2021, 12:08 AM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Russia’s Aslan Karatsev reacts during his fourth round match against Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime REUTERS/Jaimi Joy


Having made his Grand Slam debut at the 2021 Australian Open, Aslan Karatsev has reached the quarterfinals in his first attempt. Karatsev defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round in a thrilling five-set battle at Melbourne Park.

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Despite losing the opening two sets, the Russian made a marathon effort to win the epic match.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Russia’s Aslan Karatsev in action during his fourth round match against Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime REUTERS/Kelly Defina

Auger-Aliassime broke Karatsev’s serve twice in the opening set and raced to 4-1 lead, eventually wrapping up the first set 6-1. In the second set, the No.20 seed returned extremely well and broke Karatsev’s serve twice during the set to get a commanding lead of two sets.

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Karatsev outlasts Felix Auger-Aliassime

However, Karatsev turned the match around in the next two sets, notching his points winning percentage on the first serve and hard-hitting from the baseline.

The Russian qualifier broke Auger-Aliassime’s early in the third set to get a 4-2 lead and then again broke his opponent serve at 5-3 to wrap up the set.

A similar story unfolded in the fourth set, with Karatsev breaking Auger-Aliassime’s serve early and racing to a 4-1 lead. Despite the Canadian trying to fight back, Karatsev held all his following service games and won the fourth set 6-3.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime in action during his fourth round match against Russia’s Aslan Karatsev REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

With the showdown in the deciding set, Karatsev was the first to draw blood by breaking Auger-Aliassime’s serve in the third game and achieving a 3-1 lead in the final set.

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Serving 2-4 down in the fifth set, Auger-Aliassime saved four break points despite some powerful returns by Karatsev. The Canadian eventually held the service in a mammoth 12-minute game.

But Karatsev maintained his lead and won his next service game to go 5-3 in the deciding set. With Auger-Aliassime serving to stay alive the match, the 20-year-old held his service game despite being 0-30 down.

With Karatsev serving at 5-4 up, he set up three match points and delivered a one-two punch to triumph in an epic encounter. Karatsev screamed loud after hitting the winning shot, with his noise echoing through the empty stadium.

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With the victory, Karatsev became the first man to reach the quarterfinals in their Grand Slam debut since Alex Radulescu in 1996. Can he do one better and go all the way?

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Kshitij Tayal

365 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

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