Date: 18 March 2021
Tournament: Dubai Tennis Championships 2021
Venue: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Category: ATP 500
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $1,897,805
Match timing: Approx. 5 pm local time, 6.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Jannik Sinner vs Aslan Karatsev preview
Jannik Sinner will take on Aslan Karatsev on Thursday, with a spot in the Dubai Tennis Championships semifinals on the line.
Sinner is being closely watched this year following his breakthrough season in 2020, as he transitions from the 'hunter' to the 'hunted'. But after starting the 2021 season with his second career ATP title, Sinner suffered a slowdown with back-to-back losses at the Australian Open and Montpellier.
The Italian did recover with a quarterfinal finish in Marseille last week, and this week in Dubai he has registered a couple of good wins already.
Sinner's next opponent, Aslan Karatsev, is an early favorite for the Breakthrough Player of 2021 award.
It might be hard to believe that Karatsev was ranked outside the top 250 when the tour resumed last August. The Russian won 16 out of 17 matches straight off the bat post-resumption, and finished the season ranked No. 111.
Karatsev scripted his big breakthrough at the Australian Open this year, where he reached the semifinals as a qualifier. That made him the first male player in the Open era to reach the semis of his debut Grand Slam event.
In his only tournament since then, Karatsev reached the second round in Doha - where he extended Dominic Thiem to three sets. He also won the doubles title in the Middle-Eastern city, partnering with countryman Andrey Rublev.
Jannik Sinner vs Aslan Karatsev head-to-head
Jannik Sinner and Aslan Karatsev have never met on the ATP tour, and so their head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
Jannik Sinner vs Aslan Karatsev prediction
In his two matches this week, Jannik Sinner has shown why he is considered the next big thing in men's tennis.
The Italian came through a tough three-set win over Alexander Bublik in the first round. And on Wednesday he gutted out another three-set battle against No. 5 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, eventually winning 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
Aslan Karatvsev, meanwhile, has needed three wins to get to the quarters as he is unseeded. The 42nd-ranked Russian has defeated Egor Gerasimov, 12th seed Dan Evans and 17th seed Lorenzo Sonego to book his spot in the last eight.
Thursday's quarterfinal is likely going to be a hard-hitting slugfest between the two. Both players like to take big swings at the ball, but both might also be a bit tired after back-to-back three-set wins.
Sinner is still adjusting to his new status in 2021, and he has betrayed signs of his youth in some of the pressure moments this week. In such a scenario, Karatsev might just be able to cause another upset on Thursday.
Prediction: Aslan Karatsev to win in straight sets.