Tennis

Debutant Aslan Karatsev to face Novak Djokovic in semis

Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev became the first man in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam semi-final on debut, after overcoming an injured Grigor Dimitrov in four sets at the Australian Open yesterday.

The 27-year-old's dream run continued with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win against the Bulgarian to set up a last-four clash with top seed Novak Djokovic, who defeated Alexander Zverev 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).

Karatsev's win was achieved against a player grimacing with pain from late in the third set.

Dimitrov called for a medical time-out and was heard on the court microphone saying he had "spasms", with a trainer giving him treatment to his lower back.

The 18th seed gamely returned, but his movement was hampered and he struggled to serve and chase down returns.

"Unbelievable feeling, first time in semis. Incredible," said Karatsev. "It was tough at the beginning for me to hold my nerves, but I tried to find a way to play."

He is also the lowest-ranked man, at 114, to make the semis at a Slam since Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001 when he was ranked 125.

"To be honest, I hadn't seen him play before this Australian Open but now I've seen him," said Djokovic. - AFP

Tennis