rain.png
Wednesday May 12th, 2021 7:45AM

What a debut: Karatsev in Australian Open SF in 1st Slam

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Aslan Karatsev never had managed to make it into the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. Now he just refuses to leave the Australian Open.

Karatsev, a 27-year-old Russian qualifier who is ranked 114th, became the first man in the professional era to reach the semifinals of his first major tennis tournament by beating 18th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on Tuesday.

“It's an unbelievable feeling,” Karatsev said. “Of course, it's first time. First time in main draw; first time semis. It's incredible.”

That's a pretty good word for what he has managed to do. Karatsev failed in nine previous attempts to go through qualifying rounds to play at a Grand Slam tournament.

Now he's making the most of it, getting past Dimitrov — a three-time major semifinalist — after also eliminating two other seeded players, No. 8 Diego Schwartzman and No. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“It's great to see. I think it's great to see,” Dimitrov said about Karatsev's success. “Surprised? No.”

Bothered by back spams that developed Monday, Dimitrov was not at his best. He finished the match barely able to serve — and barely able to walk up the stairs as he departed Rod Laver Arena.

Dimitrov jumped out to an early lead with three service breaks in the first set. He then held seven break points in Karatsev's first two service games in the second set, but didn't convert any of them.

That's when Karatsev started to believe he could stretch his already remarkable run even further.

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

Dimitrov stopped chasing shots in the third set, then was visited by a trainer and took a medical timeout for treatment on a muscle problem around his lower back.

He hadn’t dropped a set in his first four matches here but said he had trouble putting his socks on before the match.

“It started yesterday,” Dimitrov said, “out of the blue.”

Karatsev is the lowest-ranked man to reach the Australian Open semifinals since Patrick McEnroe — John's brother — also was No. 114 in 1991 — and the lowest-ranked man to reach the semifinals at any Slam since Goran Ivanisevic was No. 125 at 2001 Wimbledon.

Karatsev will play either eight-time champion Novak Djokovic or Alexander Zverev next. Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are meeting in a quarterfinal on the other half of the draw on Wednesday, meaning there'll be two Russians in the semifinals at Melbourne Park.

Asked for his thoughts on the possibility of an all-Russian final, Karatsev stuck with what he knows.

“I try not to think about it,” he said, adding that he simply is “going from match to match.”

For Naomi Osaka, the tournament buzz at the Australian Open spoiled the surprise: She might face Serena Williams next.

Osaka overpowered Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semifinals, and will meet the winner of the quarterfinal match between Williams and No. 2-seeded Simona Halep.

“Normally I never look at my draw,” Osaka said. “But everyone has told me about my draw here, so I kind of had no choice but to know who my next opponent is. It’s definitely going to be really fun.”

Seeded third, Osaka reached 122 mph (196 kph) on her serve against Hsieh. She hit seven aces, lost only two points on her first serve and was never broken en route to her 19th consecutive victory.

Osaka also played excellent defense, such as in the final game, when she raced forward to chase down a drop shot, flicking a backhand cross-court for a winner.

“I couldn’t afford to be lazy with my footwork,” Osaka said with a smile. “I didn’t want to play three sets.”

At 35, Hsieh was the oldest woman to make her Grand Slam quarterfinal debut in the professional era. But Osaka wasn’t fazed by Hsieh’s flat, deceptive two-handed strokes from both sides, pounding forehand winners into both corners.

Hsieh said Osaka is a threat to win the championship.

“She always can go all the way,” Hsieh said. “She just needs to play her game and stay calm. She's a great player.”

Osaka's winning streak includes a U.S. Open title in September for her third Grand Slam championship. The streak also includes her fourth-round win last week, when she saved two match points and swept the final four games to overtake Garbiñe Muguruza.

“It makes me a bit more calm, knowing that my back was severely against the wall,” Osaka said.

Osaka is 4-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinals, including a victory en route to the Australian Open title in 2019. Against Williams her record is 2-1, but they haven't played each other since 2019.

“She’s Serena,” Osaka said. “I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court.”

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP Sports - Women's Tennis
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Draymond Green slams NBA over star players on trading block
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green sharply criticized the NBA on Monday night, saying players put on the trading block by teams are being treated unfairly
3:05AM ( 6 minutes ago )
What a debut: Karatsev in Australian Open SF in 1st Slam
Aslan Karatsev has become the first man in the professional era to reach the semifinals in his Grand Slam debut by beating an injured Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
3:02AM ( 9 minutes ago )
Alleged rebels from Central African Republic face ICC trial
The former head of the Central African Republic’s soccer federation and an alleged rebel commander known as Rambo are going on trial at the International Criminal Court charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity
2:53AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Clarkson, streaking Jazz win showdown vs Simmons, 76ers
Jordan Clarkson scored a season-high 40 points to send the streaking Utah Jazz past the Philadelphia 76ers 134-123 in a matchup of conference leaders despite a career-best 42 points from Ben Simmons
2:13AM ( 58 minutes ago )
Clarkson (40), streaking Jazz win showdown vs Simmons, 76ers
Jordan Clarkson scored a season-high 40 points to send the streaking Utah Jazz past the Philadelphia 76ers 134-123 in a matchup of conference leaders despite a career-best 42 points from Ben Simmons
1:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
Tokyo Olympics to pick Mori replacement; is a woman likely?
Yoshiro Mori’s replacement as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee is expected to be named very quickly
1:22AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Daughter of Bills, Sabres owners into all-US QF in Australia
Jessica Pegula has reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open by earning her first victory over an opponent ranked in the Top 10
11:18AM ( 15 hours ago )
Daughter of Bills, Sabres owners into 1st Slam quarterfinal
Jessica Pegula has reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open by earning her first victory over an opponent ranked in the Top 10
10:52PM ( 1 day ago )
Injured Djokovic advances to quarters at Australian Open
Novak Djokovic says wouldn't be playing this week if there wasn't a Grand Slam title on the line
10:27AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Tennis
The Latest: Serena Williams in Australian Open quarterfinals
Serena Williams has returned to the Australian Open quarterfinals by getting past No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets
11:48PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Serena Williams into 3rd set at Australian Open
Serena Williams has been pushed to a third set by No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open with a quarterfinal berth on the line
11:06PM ( 2 days ago )
Point from defeat, Osaka edges Muguruza at Australian Open
Naomi Osaka has saved two match points and come back to eliminate Garbiñe Muguruza to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals
9:53PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - Women's Tennis
Draymond Green slams NBA over star players on trading block
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green sharply criticized the NBA on Monday night, saying players put on the trading block by teams are being treated unfairly
3:05AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Alleged rebels from Central African Republic face ICC trial
The former head of the Central African Republic’s soccer federation and an alleged rebel commander known as Rambo are going on trial at the International Criminal Court charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity
2:53AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Heavy snowfall blankets Athens; vaccinations postponed
Unusually heavy snowfall has blanketed central Athens, with authorities warning residents particularly in the Greek capital’s northern and eastern suburbs to avoid leaving their homes on Tuesday morning
2:48AM ( 23 minutes ago )
South Africa's health care workers eager for first vaccines
Health care workers at the Ndlovu Care Group in rural South Africa are among those eagerly awaiting the first jabs of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is being rolled out to them starting this week
2:42AM ( 30 minutes ago )
No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State meet to top AP Top 25 slate
Third-ranked Michigan and fourth-ranked Ohio State meet to headline the AP Top 25 national schedule this week
2:35AM ( 36 minutes ago )