This will be a first between these two players.
Grigor Dimitrov participates in his eleventh Australian Open. It is the 4th time he reaches the quarter finals. He managed only once to pass this round, to stop in the semi-final (2017).
It’s simple, Aslan Karatsev is playing in the final draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career. It’s unbelievable.
In this edition
To get there, Grigor Dimitrov won against Marin Cilic, Alex Bolt, Pablo Carreno Busta (on abandonment) and Dominic Thiem. The Bulgarian has not yet lost a set in this edition, and has just spanked the world’s 3rd best (with a bubble in the third set). You should know that Thiem was well hit physically, but he didn’t want to elaborate on the subject so as not to use it as an excuse. Class.
The qualified Aslan Karatsev defeated Gianluca Mager, Egor Gerasimov, Diego Schwartzamn and Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Russian lost only two sets in his last match. Karatsev was led 2 sets to 0 before making a nice comeback (helped by his opponent’s feverish mind, but still).
Will Aslan Karatsev ever stop? The Russian is already assured of making his entry into the Top 100, in 63rd place, and seems determined to snack a little more. Even if his last victory is largely due to Auger-Aliassime’s lack of mental solidity, Aslan Karatsev’s excellent level in the last 3 sets cannot be taken away.
For his part, Grigor Dimitrov cannot really use his last victory against Dominic Thiem as a reference match. Indeed, the world number 3 was far from his usual level of play. He didn’t even manage to exceed 55% of points on his firsts and made 41 unforced errors.
Grigor Dimitrov will add an extra layer of technique that Aslan Karatsev has not yet had the opportunity to discover in this tournament. He may indeed be able to do much more than the Russian’s previous opponents. The Bulgarian will be able to use his variations to disrupt his opponent’s regularity, but also exploit his cushioning qualities and his ability to climb quickly to the net. I sincerely think this can hurt Aslan Karatsev.
Facing Auger-Aliassime, the Russian had a very complicated start. He wasn’t there mentally and his tennis was much less efficient. From the third set on, he was able to relax and we immediately saw the difference. In fact, it clearly had nothing to do with it!
In my opinion, the key to this match is in the hands of the new Top 100, Aslan Karatsev. Indeed, if he manages to offer the same level of play as in his previous matches, I am afraid that Grigor Dimitrov will not be able to handle it.
Aslan Karatsev has a very effective backhand, and I often see him take over the diagonal backhand duel. Grigor Dimitrov is able to cut this short by dropping a beautiful long line backhand, but I doubt that he does it consistently. The Russian’s balls come back very quickly. Moreover, Grigor Dimitrov may be overdoing the slices on this side a bit too much and this could be blessed bread for his opponent. Karatsev also knows how to fix his opponents on the diagonal backhand before he, too, drops it along the line. And believe me, it hurts.
In summary, if we are dealing with the Aslan Karatsev of the first two sets against Auger-Aliassime, then Grigor Dimitrov should win without difficulty. If Karatsev starts directly at the level he was at from the 3rd set, then Grigor Dimitrov could well be out of the game.
It will therefore depend on Aslan Karatsev and his way of mentally managing this new status. He seems to be solid (much more than an Auger-Aliassim). But Grigor Dimitrov is not at his first quarter final of the Grand Slam. This match promises to be crispy. I can’t wait!
Prediction: Aslan Karatsev wins