Aslan Karatsev was ranked outside the top 250 in the world before the coronavirus pandemic
Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev came out of straight sets and took another impressive win to advance to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
The 27-year-old number 114 in the world beat the Canadian 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime with 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-4.
With the win over Diego Schwartzman, the eighth seed in the preliminary round, Karatsev was the surprise package at this year’s event in Melbourne Park.
He is the first man to make a major quarter-finals on debut in 25 years.
Karatsev, who was injured during his career, had failed in nine previous attempts to reach a Grand Slam peloton. At the ATP Cup earlier this month, however, Daniil Medvedev, number four in the world, called it Russia’s “secret weapon”.
He has more than proven this after reaching the fourth round without dropping a set, before celebrating an incredible comeback against Auger-Aliassime in the first five-seater of his career to a round of 16 with US Open champion Dominic Thiem or the Bulgarian to carry out former world number three Grigor Dimitrov.
“I’ll be ready for everyone,” said Karatsev, who in 1996 became the first man since Alex Radulescu to make it into the last eight in his Grand Slam debut.
Thiem meets Dimitrov on Sunday before Novak Djokovic, the world’s number 1, competes against Canadian Milos Raonic. The Serbian top seed has expressed doubts about his fitness after an abdominal injury in the preliminary round.
In the meantime, British interest in singles may have ended Cameron Norries exit to Rafael Nadal on Saturday, but on Sunday there was a mixed double victory in Melbourne.
Neal Skupski has teamed up with the Slovenian Andreja Klepac to beat the Australian couple John Peers and Belinda Woolcock 6: 2, 5: 7 (12: 10) in the first round.