18th seed, Grigor Dimitrov was knocked out out of the Australian Open on Tuesday afternoon after he suffered a shock loss to Russain qualifier Aslan Karatsev.
Although Dimitrov took an early lead, breaking Karatsev three times to take the opening set, the Bulgarian waned as Karatsev bounced back to win the following three sets, 2-6 6-4 6-1 6-2, and become the first player on debut to reach a grand slam semifinal since 1968.Embed from Getty Images
“I think it’s great to see,” said Dimitrov on Karatsev’s achievement.
“He needs to take it in. He needs to appreciate it. He’s a great player. To be here, clearly, you’ve done something right. You’ve put in the work, you’ve gone through the qualifying went through tough and good matches, and built up confidence.“
The loss will be a tough one to take for Dimitrov, who told reporters that he had suffered a back spasm on Monday that left him struggling for mobility in the later parts of the match.
But he was determined not to give in.
“I just got a back spasm yesterday at some point.“
“We couldn’t fix it in time. [The pain started to happen again], early in the match [today]. It kept on progressing, and it was unstoppable. It started yesterday out of the blue.”Embed from Getty Images
“I don’t like quitting… but you get stubborn. You’re a competitor. That’s what it is.”
“It’s just when you’re on the court sometimes, you don’t think straight, and in that particular moment today, I just didn’t want to give up. I couldn’t give up. Plus, that’s just how I am.“
Dimitrov has had an excellent run during this year’s Australian Open, defeating former US Open champion Marin Cilic, Australian Alex Bolt, and current world No.3 Dominic Thiem, all without dropping a single set.
“I felt I was on a good path. We’ve done great work. I was very positive and upbeat for whatever, whoever I had to play.”
“Today, I couldn’t put my socks on before the match, so I knew it was going to be a tough moment for me. I tried, but it was not good enough. But he absolutely deserved to win.“
“I thought I could push through it, but at the end of the first set, my level completely dropped, I felt it, even in important moments in the second set, like early on.“
“He served good, made me play a lot, so that added extra stress to the body. I just thought to myself, ‘I will keep on trying’ and hoped things would get better because I’ve taken a lot of things before the match.”Embed from Getty Images
The Bulgarian has only ever reached three grand slam semifinals in his career and will be even more gutted, considering his injury came while he was not doing any physical exercise.
“Having a back spasm, everything goes through that part of the body, all rotation, reactions.”
“When I’m not capable to use my speed, my legs, my reaction, just everything becomes very insignificant. Whether you serve, hit a forehand or whatever, it’s just like electricity goes through your body.”
“I’m just going to take the positives out of this situation. What just happened, happened. I cannot take it back. I need to swallow it. But at the same time I’m not just going to keep my head down. Today has been just bad luck. That’s what it is.”
Aslan Karatsev— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 16, 2021
➡️Ranked #253 after the pandemic break
➡️Qualified in Doha
➡1st *ever* player to reach the SFs on his Grand Slam debut
➡️5th ever qualifier to reach a Slam SF.
➡️ Will rise to inside the top 50 next Monday.
One of the best stories in recent years pic.twitter.com/WzJ63tHCmp
Aslan Karatsev will also become the first qualifier to reach a grand slam semifinal in the open era.
He’ll now take on world No.1 Novak Djokovic for a shot at the Australian Open final.
Featured Image: Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) (24852347247) (cropped).jpg by Joshua Sadli from Melbourne, Australia // https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grigor_Dimitrov_(Bul)(24852347247)(cropped).jpg // Licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/