As an inexperienced tennis player, the shocked world does the unimaginable
In his eight-year professional career as a Russian tennis player, Aslan Karatsev made more money winning a match than he did.
Do you already know who Aslan Karatsev is?
The unseeded Russian tennis star has been the Australian Open Cinderella story of this year, taking everyone by surprise as he rewrote the history books by storming into the Melbourne Park semi-finals.
Sergiy Stakhovsky began a social media spat earlier today when he attacked tennis analyst Nick McCarvel on Twitter, after a prominent media member revealed that he had never heard of Karatsev before this tournament.
You could hardly accuse him. After all, before last week, the 27-year-old had never even played in a grand slam.
But now, after beating an injured Grigor Dimitrov to book his place in the final four in his maiden appearance at a major, he's the name on everybody's lips.
Karatsev, who entered the world's 114th Australian Open, is now up to 42-that's more than Nick Kyrgios-and has secured himself a prize money payday of $850,000.
Remarkably, during his eight-year professional career, he had won just under $620,000 in prize money before this tournament. With his 2-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 win over Dimitrov in two hours and 32 minutes, he more than doubled that.
Karatsev is waiting for Novak Djokovic's quarterfinal winner against Alexander Zverev, who will be eyeing an even bigger windfall and maybe some silverware.
REWRITES KARATSEV THE RECORD BOOKS
- Karatsev has been among his slew of achievements:
- The first player ever to reach the Grand Slam debut semi-finals
- The lowest-ranked male player since Patrick McEnroe in 1991 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals
- The lowest ranked male since Goran Ivanisevic (125) at Wimbledon in 2001 to reach a grand slam semi-final.
- The fifth male qualifier to reach a grand slam singles semi-final in the Open Era
- The first male qualifier to reach the Australian Open semi-finals since 1977-
- The second ever qualifier to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open
- The first man on his Australian Open debut since 1998 to reach the semifinals
'TOTALLY NUTS': Shocked TENNIS FANS
Fans watching as Karatsev irritated Dimitrov could hardly believe their eyes.
Writer Ashlee Vance tweeted: "The Australian Open tale is totally nuts." Aslan Karatsev made it to the semi-finals. He is 27. It was his first ever grand slam. In order to even get in, he had to play a qualifying tourney.
CNN Sports' Jill Martin wrote: "What an unbelievable run for Karatsev." So many firsts for you.
Although Gaurav Kalra said on social media that the insane development was "unbelievable," D'Arcy Maine called it "unreal."
Eric Hubbs went on to add: "Holy Moly!" The Russian traveler, Aslan Karatsev, has reached the Aussie Open semis. This is not just his first ever grand slam main draw, but his career earnings have just doubled.
Why Karatsev went beyond anyone else planned
Late in the third set, Dimitrov began grimacing with pain. He called for a medical time-out and was heard claiming he had "spasms" on the court microphone, with a trainer giving him care for his lower back.
The 18th seed returned gamely, but as she tried to serve and track down returns, her mobility was hindered.
Amazing feeling, the first time in the semis. Incredible," Karatsev said. "In the beginning, it was difficult for me to hold my nerves, but I tried to find a way to play."
Karatsev spent the bulk of his professional career competing for points on the ATP Challenger Circuit, a virtual unknown before the tournament began. But on the way to meeting Dimitrov, he played the tournament of his life in Melbourne, blitzing eighth seed Diego Schwartzmann and 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
When the Bulgarian fluffed a forehand, Dimitrov served to love to open proceedings until Karatsev reset his radar and broke for 2-1.
But the advantage only lasted until the next game when Dimitrov levelled and then broke for 4-2 again, winning five games in a row in just 33 minutes to take the opening set.
The Russian was guilty of too many loose shots and his forehands had difficulty landing. But he's a warrior and he refused to go quietly, breaking on the back of a wild Dimitrov volley for a 3-2 lead in the second, then breaking again to surprisingly secure the second set.
His persistence began to irritate Dimitrov, who began to mutter to himself as tensions crept in, and in the third set he went down 3-1.
Before taking the medical time-out, the Bulgarian then started struggling as the set wore on and was hardly able to serve at 1-5.
The 29-year-old came back, but never looked like going back to the game.