5/5 © Reuters. Australian Open 2/5
By Nick Mulvenney MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Qualifier Aslan Karatsev continued his impressive run to the Australian Open semifinals on Tuesday, beating a sick Grigor Dimitrov 2-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 to become the first man. in the open it was to reach the last four in his first Grand Slam. The world number 114 was also only the fifth-ranked player to reach the quarter-finals of a men’s major in the open era and the lowest-ranked player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final in two decades. The Russian, whose success in entering the Australian Open came on his 10th attempt to qualify for a Grand Slam, will face eight-time champion Novak Djokovic or Alexander Zverev for a place in the final. “It‘s an incredible feeling, the first main draw, the first semi-final,” said the 27-year-old, whose victory was marked only by canned applause with fans still excluded from Melbourne Park due to a five-day coronavirus lockdown. Dimitrov, who had not lost a single set on his way to the quarterfinals, said he had suffered a back spasm on Monday and was having trouble putting his socks on before the match. “It sucks,” the 29-year-old said. “It’s sport, you never know. That’s why you have to keep trying until the end.” I also respect the boy. He saw me fight and kept doing what he had to do. “Karatsev confessed to having struggled with nerves at the beginning of the contest at Rod Laver Arena and his first set full of errors was truly forgettable. He had fought two sets however, to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, and he soon tightened his game to return to the match in the second verse. Dimitrov seemed shocked as Karatsev struck with howitzer shots over the net, hesitating as the 29-year-old Bulgarian took a medical break. to get back treatment after losing the third set, but was only able to show glimpses of his refined play in the fourth. Karatsev showed no mercy on his hampered opponent and took a comfortable lead over the 18th seed, sealing his spot in the latter four when Dimitrov hit a backhand at the net.With ATP Cup teammates Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev facing off in a qua rter-final on Wednesday, Russia is guaranteed had two players in the semifinals and could still provide both finalists. “I try not to think about it, I just watch the next game,” Karatsev said when asked about the prospect.