Stories like this are what makes tennis so magical.
27 year old Aslan Karatsev had never qualified for a Grand Slam before, before this week he had only played in 13 tour level matches winning 3 of them.
Since 2015 he has attempted to qualify for a Grand Slam on five occasions, the opportunities don’t come that often and this fifth attempt under unusual circumstances.
The Russian began his qualifying for the Australian Open over a month ago now and had to wait for his chance to appear in the main draw of a Gran Slam. In qualifying he defeated:
Brandon Nakashima 6-2 6-7 6-2
Max Purcell 6-1 6-2
Alexandre Muller 6-2 6-1
The Russian was also part of the ATP Cup winning side for Russia which saw Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev go unbeaten which must have been inspiring to watch and has giving him this momentum and is making big noise at Melbourne Park.
For his first win at a Grand Slam he saw off Gianluca Mager 6-3 6-3 6-4, next up was a complete runaway against Egor Gerasimov dropping just one game throughout winning 6-0 6-1 6-0.
This would have had Diego Schwartzman slightly worried but the Argentinian could not live with the power and precision of the Russian who continued to impress on debut knocking out the first of the eight seeds to fall at the Australian Open.
Next up was Felix Auger Aliassime, the young Canadian has been in fine form since he came to Melbourne this January and February but will be kicking himself that he isn’t into the final eight at the Australian Open.
Felix raced to a 6-3 6-1 lead, the net play of the Russian just wasn’t up to scratch and continued to miss the target during the first 68 minutes.
Having won four games in the opening two sets he began to find his rhythm. He opened up the court with his forehand and when required would close at the net as the Russian took a 4-2 lead and went onto seal the third set 6-3. The fourth set followed a similar pattern for Aslan sealing the set 6-3 with a fist pump towards his box.
The 20th seed was in trouble, the angles that Aslan continued to create was outstanding breaking Felix to love to take an early 2-1 lead. Felix did continue to stay close to the Russian but it was just the break that was required, did Aslan show nerves at the end? Absolutely not as he produced one of the comebacks of the tournament to win 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-4 and continue his fairytale Australian Open run setting up a meeting with Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in the semi-finals.
He has so far guaranteed his place in the top 80 in the world a career high ranking but could go further. It isn’t about money but a big breakthrough after his debut in 2009 is a fantastic achievement. In his career has made $618,354 coming into the Australian Open but has earned $525,000 this week which could be a major change in his career and future opportunities.