It’s difficult to think of a rise as meteoric as Aslan Karatsev's in 2021. On Saturday morning, the Russian continued his breakout season, brushing aside the in-form Lloyd Harris all too easily, 6-3, 6-2, to capture his first ever ATP singles title in Dubai.
Karatsev capitalized on a slightly fatigued Harris, who, after advancing through qualifying, played eight matches in as many days.
“It was a fantastic week, I came through seven matches, I don’t recall ever playing eight matches in one week so it was mentally and physically demanding, but Aslan was just too good today,” Harris said after the match.
Though he lost, it was a dream week for Harris, who became the first qualifier to advance to the final in the event’s 29-year history. The supremely athletic South African defeated a slew of top players including Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov.
Karatsev improved to 12-2 on the season, with his only losses coming to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne and Dominic Thiem in Doha.
“It shows me that I can play with everyone, that I’m not losing to people ranked behind me,” Karatsev said after the match. "I feel good on court and am playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Karatsev was humble in victory, but the Russian is playing flawless tennis, crushing winners off both wings far too easily. The Russian swings his Head Prestige like a toothpick, and when he is on, is borderline unplayable. Just 12 tournaments ago, Karatsev was ranked No. 253 in the world, but will crack the ATP Top 30 with his victory.