Newly-crowned Dubai Open champion Aslan Karatsev recently revealed that he enjoyed watching Roger Federer play during his childhood days. And in addition to Federer, Karatsev also closely followed the matches between American legends Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
Aslan Karatsev's fine run of form this year continued in Dubai, where the Russian won his maiden ATP tour title. But unlike younger players who are often compared to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, the 27-year-old Karatsev hasn’t seen himself being likened to any of these stars.
Some believe, however, that there is a slight resemblance between the playing styles of Aslan Karatsev and Roger Federer - particularly their ability to take the ball on the rise and switch direction with their forehands. But that similarity isn’t surprising given that the Russian grew up watching Federer play and win.
Karatsev showered rich praise on Federer in the aftermath of his Dubai win, calling the Swiss maestro's tennis 'unbelievable'.
"I always liked to watch Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi," Karatsev said. "At that time when I was growing up, there were fantastic matches between Agassi and Sampras. And Roger, when I was seven he had already started winning [laughs]. It’s unbelievable to watch what he does on the court."
Unlike Roger Federer, it took Aslan Karatsev over a decade to establish himself on the tour. Karatsev highlighted the long and difficult journey to his maiden title, adding that he is happy to see the end of the injury troubles that had hampered him earlier.
"It means a lot. It was a long journey from 18 years old, when I stopped playing the juniors and turned pro," Karatsev continued. "It’s almost 10 years, or even more. So it’s a long journey, and I put in a lot of hard work. [There were] a lot of ups and downs. I also was injured during this time, so I’m really happy that I recovered and was ready to compete again on that level."
Like Roger Federer, Aslan Karatsev is also passionate about football
Roger Federer excelled at both football and tennis during his childhood. But the Swiss preferred to pursue the latter as his career, and the rest is history.
The 39-year-old is also a die-hard fan of Swiss football side FC Basel, whose matches he often follows or attends in person.
It turns out that Aslan Karatsev had a similar affection towards the sport during his younger days. The Russian claimed that he would have pursued football if he hadn't opted for tennis.
"I think if I wasn’t a tennis player, I would be a football player," Karatsev said. "I have liked to play football since I was a kid, so I would say football."