Russian tennis player Aslan Karatsev, who made history by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open on debut, revealed that his mere target was only to reach the top 100 stage of the tournament.
The 27-year-old continued his dream run with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win against injury-hit Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. He will now face either top seed Novak Djokovic or sixth seed Alexander Zverev.
Karatsev is now the first man in the open era to reach the semifinal on his Grand Slam debut. He is also only the second Qualifier to do so at the Australian Open since Bob Giltinan achieved the feat in 1977.
He entered the semifinals with a ranking of 114 which is now expected to soar into the top 50. His 114th rank also made him the lowest-ranked player to enter the semis at a Slam since Goran Ivanisevic did it in the Wimbledon of 2001, with a rank of 125.
“Of course not,” Karatsev responded when he was asked about whether he imagined being just two wins away from a Slam title.
“My first step was to try to go to top 100 by the end of last year, and it didn’t happen.
“So I said, okay, from the beginning, my first step (this year) was to be top 100. So that was my thought.”
Karatsev spent most of his childhood in Israel. He also revealed that he had thought about ending his career at one point of time after he suffered a knee injury in 2017.
“I try to believe what I’m doing on the court, and it’s helped me to win matches,” said Karatsev.
“I arrive on the court and say, ‘Okay, I try to do my best with more belief.”
He also revealed excitedly that he received around 100 whatsapp messages once he made it to the semis.
“It’s amazing….I’m just trying to enjoy the moment,” he said.