Karatsev still shocking the tennis world

·2-min read

Aslan Karatsev has continued his remarkable rise since his Australian Open heroics as he beat his Russian compatriot Andrey Rublev to reach his first ATP Tour final at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Karatsev, who became the lowest-ranked grand slam semi-finalist in two decades at the Australian Open in February, beat second-seed Rublev 6-2 4-6 6-4 in Friday's semi-final.

In the final Karatsev will face another surprise packet in South African qualifier Lloyd Harris, who hit back to beat Canada's Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-6 (8-6).

The 27-year-old Karatsev, handed a wild card for this event, fashioned 16 break points on his way to overcoming his occasional doubles partner.

Karatsev's victory broke Rublev's 23-match winning run in ATP 500 events that stretched back to last year's Hamburg European Open.

"It was a really tight match, tough opponent," Karatsev said in an on-court interview. "It was an unbelievable performance from Andrey. He didn't lose a match at an ATP 500 in one year."

In the other match, Shapovalov appeared to be coasting to victory when he established a 4-2 lead in the second set but a series of unforced errors let Harris break twice in a row to wrest the advantage.

Despite playing his seventh match in seven days, Harris, the world No.81, looked physically strong and held his nerve in a tight final set tiebreak to become the first qualifier ever to reach the final of the event.

"This is what I am working for. This is what I have been putting in the hard yards for," said Harris, whose only previous tour-level final was in Adelaide last year when he was beaten by Rublev.

"I have been waiting for some results like this. To have so many of them in one week is a fantastic feeling. I have got one more match to go."

Karatsev or Harris will become the fourth first-time winner on the ATP Tour this season after Daniel Evans (Murray River Open), Australian Alexei Popyrin (Singapore) and Juan Manuel Cerundolo (Cordoba).