Fixture: Grigor Dimitrov vs Aslan Karatsev
Date: 16 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80,000,000
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport 1 | India - Sony Six
Grigor Dimitrov vs Aslan Karatsev preview
18th seed Grigor Dimitrov will be looking to return to the last four at the Australian Open when he takes on unseeded Aslan Karatsev in Tuesday's quarterfinals.
Dimitrov caused the biggest upset in Melbourne so far, as he routed World No. 3 Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 in the fourth round. Thiem was possibly exhausted from his strenuous match against Nick Kyrgios, but Dimitrov's level was impressive throughout as he hit 25 winners against just 18 unforced errors all match.
The Bulgarian beat former Slam champion Marin Cilic, local favorite Alex Bolt and 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta earlier in the week, all in straight sets. Up next for Dimitrov is this week's surprise package Aslan Karatsev, who shocked World No. 19 Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets to reach the last eight on Sunday.
Karatsev lost the first two sets 3-6 and 1-6, but he then reeled off the next three sets to come away the victor. The 27-year-old had also previously dispatched eighth seed Diego Schwartzman in straight sets in the third round.
Currently ranked World No. 114, Karatsev is projected to break into the top 100 next week - and is likely to remain there for a while. The Russian has spent much of his career in the lower rungs of the sport, but now that he is playing the main draw of a Major for the first time, he is making it count.
Karatsev won 35 matches on the main tour and the Challenger circuit combined last year, and that number could rise even higher in 2021.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Aslan Karatsev head-to-head
Grigor Dimitrov and Aslan Karatsev have never met on the professional tour, so their current head-to-head stands at 0-0.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Aslan Karatsev prediction
Once touted as the next best thing, Dimitrov has largely failed to live up to the expectations during his career. The Bulgarian fell out of the top 50 soon after a career-best 2017 season, and it was only his semifinal run at the 2019 US Open that helped him climb back in.
But Dimitrov has shown over the years that his talent is unquestionable, making forays into the later rounds of big tournaments every now and then.
At this year's Australian Open, Dimitrov's return of serve has had a big impact. The 29-year-old has been able to hit big on his forehand return and vary the pace on his backhand return, mixing up slice and topspin to neutralize the opponent's serve.
In his fourth-round match against Thiem, Dimitrov won more than 60% of the points on the Austrian's second serve, which is widely considered one of the best in the world.
Aslan Karatsev, meanwhile, is a hardcourt specialist who is relishing the fast courts in Melbourne this year. The Russian has a consistent serve, along with a powerful forehand that can do a lot of damage from anywhere in the court. Karatsev is also pretty efficient at the net, having won 20 of his 25 net points against Auger-Aliassime.
The key for Dimitrov will be to show the same aggressive intent that he has shown throughout the week, and not fall into cat-and-mouse games with the Russian power hitter. If he does manage to do that, his experience will likely see him through.
Prediction: Grigor Dimitrov to win in straight sets.