Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev became the first man in the Open era to beat an injured Grigor Dimitrov in four sets of the Australian Open to reach the Grand Slam semi-finals on Tuesday.
27-year-old Sapna’s dream continued 2–6, 6–4, 6–1, 6–2 and a final-four clash with top-seeded Novak Djokovic or the sixth seed Alexander with a win against the Bulgarian over Rod Laver Arena. Zverev.
But late in the third set it was achieved against a pain-stricken player.
Dimitrov asked for a medical timeout and was heard on the court microphone saying he had “cramps”, with a trainer giving him treatment on his lower back.
The 18th seed game bounced back but was hampered by his return and he struggled to make a comeback.
“Looks incredible, for the first time in Semis. Unbelievable,” Karatsev said.
“It was hard for me to hold my nerves initially, but I tried to find a way to play.”
In making the last four, he became only the second qualifier to do so at the Australian Open after Bob Guiltinan in 1977.
He was also the lowest ranked man, at the age of 114, after Goran Ivanisevich in the slam, finishing 125th at Wimbledon in 2001.
A virtual unknown before the tournament began, Karthsev has spent the bulk of his professional career fighting for points on the ATP Challenger Tour.
But he played the tournament of his life in Melbourne, with eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman and 20th-seeded Felix Auger-Alassime on their way to meet Dimitrov.
Dimitrov made love for the open proceedings, but Karatsev recovered his radar and broke for 2–1 when the Bulgarian fouled a forehand.
But it only benefited until the next game, when Dimitrov again made the score 4–2 and won five consecutive games to take the set in the opening 33 minutes.
The Russian was guilty of too many loose shots and had trouble landing his forehand.
But he is a fighter and refused to go quietly, breaking for a 3–2 lead in the second on the back of a wild Dimitrov volley again to unexpectedly secure the second set.
His persistence began to upset Dimitrov, who started turning himself in as a disappointment and he was down 3–1 in the third set.
The Bulgarian then began to struggle on set and was barely able to serve at 1-5 before taking a medical timeout.
The 29-year-old returned but never returned to the match.