Aslan Karatsev has captured the first ATP Tour title of his career as the late-blossoming Russian triumphed in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
At the age of 27, and with little warning, Karatsev has hurtled from obscurity before tennis went into lockdown 12 months ago to real prominence.
A 6-3 6-2 victory over South African qualifier Lloyd Harris on Saturday gave the Russian a trophy for his efforts and he will enter the top 30 on Monday, having never had a double-digit ranking before this season.
Karatsev reached the Australian Open semi-finals last month, having had to win three qualifying rounds to make the main draw, and it took Novak Djokovic to stop his charge in Melbourne.
Now Vladikavkaz-born Karatsev is back in another winning routine, with Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner and Dan Evans having figured among his victims en route to the Dubai final.
“I am super happy. It was a tight match. I was really nervous,” the first-time champion said.
“I want to congratulate my opponent for the final run. He did a great week. Every final is different, so I am happy that I won.”
Karatsev had some promising results at Challenger Tour level last year but had never shown form on the main circuit until the start of 2021 – but suddenly he looks a major force to be reckoned with.
He said of the rush of success: “You never know when it is coming. I did a good job with my team, with my coach and it has happened now.”