Aslan Karatsev reached a major career milestone on Saturday, as he defeated Lloyd Harris to clinch his maiden ATP tour title. And during the press conference after his victory, Karatsev was asked how he felt about joining the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on the elusive wall of champions at Dubai.
Karatsev replied in typical fashion, keeping his answer concise. The Russian claimed that he was privileged to join the 'big names' to have triumphed at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
"Yeah of course, I'm super happy to win these kind of tournaments specially ATP 500s, specially here in Dubai," Karatsev said. "Of course with big names like that, you feel privileged yourself, and with your performance. I'm really happy with my game this week, so I'm happy."
The Big 3 have had their fair share of success in the Middle-Eastern city. Roger Federer is a record-eight time champion at the ATP 500 event, having last won the title in Dubai in 2019. And Novak Djokovic is not far behind, having reigned supreme at the 500-level event five times in his career.
Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, has not participated at the Dubai event as frequently as his other two rivals. That said, the Spaniard won his lone title at Dubai 2006, when he defeated then World No. 1 Roger Federer in the final.
You have more motivation when you see youngsters like Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev playing really fantastic tennis: Aslan Karatsev
During the post-match interview, Aslan Karatsev was also asked how he felt about being part of a strong group of Russian players - a group that includes Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev. Medvedev is currently the World No. 2, and Rublev had won four consecutive ATP 500 titles before Dubai.
Karatsev responded that the pair, with whom he practices regularly, were playing 'really fantastic tennis'. He did add, however, that he needed to improve his own game to be able to match them.
"Yeah I'm really happy to go close to the top players," Aslan Karatsev said. "You have more motivation when you see these young players playing really fantastic tennis. Medvedev is No. 2, he's (Rublev) No. 8. So you're always looking forward to play better, so you can improve."