Aslan Karatsev produced the biggest win of his career as he beat Novak Djokovic in the semifinal of the Serbia Open on Saturday. Karatsev survived a 205-minute long battle to come through in three sets, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Aslan Karatsev is now into the final of the tournament, where he will take on Matteo Berrettini. During his press conference after the semifinal win, the Russian talked about just how difficult it is to get the better of Novak Djokovic. He also claimed that he went into the match with the belief that he could beat the Serb, before explaining how he treated every single point like his life depended on it.
"I stepped on the court to win," Karatsev said. "I was believing (in myself), and I said to myself that I would play every ball no matter what. I tried to keep this strategy that we spoke about with the coach. You have to fight for every ball, that was the key to success."
Aslan Karatsev saved a whopping 23 break points out of the 28 that he faced against Novak Djokovic. The Russian brought out his best tennis when it mattered the most, going on the attack and taking matters out of his opponent's hands.
During his press conference, Aslan Karatsev stressed that you need to give your '200%' to stand a chance against Novak Djokovic, given the Serb's otherworldly defense and never-say-die attitude. Karatsev also liked playing against the Serb to playing against a wall, where ball comes back every single time.
"It was a long, tough match (against a) tough opponent," Karatsev said. "You have to put [in] like 200 per cent to beat this guy, it’s like playing against a wall. And he also made some good shots. He doesn’t give you any free points. He always makes you play and you have to be always there because once you miss a couple of shots, he just takes it very quickly. That’s how I lost the second set."
When asked about the thoughts that were running through his mind when faced with the multiple break points, Aslan Karatsev mentioned that he was mainly trying to play aggressively.
"I can't say what's going on in my mind that moment, I mean, you have to play aggressive with these kind of players," Karatsev said. "Because as I said before you play against the wall if you don't play aggressive you just defend, you hit the wall, everything coming back deep. He moves you a lot."
"You cannot compare these type of matches" - Aslan Karatsev on his AO semifinal against Novak Djokovic
Aslan Karatsev had also faced Novak Djokovic in the semifinal of the 2021 Australian Open. In that match Karatsev began strongly, but the Serb eventually got into his stride and eventually ran away with it.
When asked to compare that match with the one at the Serbia Open, Karatsev pointed out that the World No. 1 was nearly flawless in Melbourne. The Russian also suggested that playing Novak Djokovic on clay is a little easier than doing so on hardcourt.
"You cannot compare these type of matches," Karatsev said. "I mean, when you play Grand Slam - I think he did one mistake between two sets. This time (too) I hit the wall, so it's almost the same. But here's a different surface for us. Yeah, I think hardcourt is super hard to play against him, he was unbelievable in the semifinal and then I watched the final, he did not give a chance to Medvedev."