Aslan Karatsev left Melbourne Park with his head held high on Thursday after a semi-final exit to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
“It was a great two weeks for me, starting with the qualifying,” said Karatsev, after a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 loss to nine-time champion Djokovic. “It’s a good experience. To play against Novak, helps me to get experience.
“It felt unbelievable [to play in front of a big crowd]. There was a lot of people here, and the support was really warm. It was [a] good atmosphere to play [in].”
Karatsev, who qualified for his first Grand Slam championship and beat eighth seed Diego Schwartzman, No. 18 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and No. 20 seed Grigor Dimitrov en route to the Australian Open semi-finals, admitted that the difference between him and Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena was “huge”.
“The difference is really big,” said Karatsev, who was contesting just the 19th tour-level match of his career. “He doesn’t give you free points. On my serve, you have to play a rally every point. [My] serve didn’t work well today, and on my service games there [were] always rallies. He served well all the match, [so] you’re under pressure.”
The 27-year-old Russian, who started the tournament at No. 114 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, will rise into the Top 50 on Monday and looks forward to playing in ATP Tour events.
“It give me more experience, more confidence,” said Karatsev. “Now I will be playing all [the] big tournaments without [having to play in] the qualifying. I’ll [use] this confidence and just keep playing, keep practising.
“[I feel] that I can play with everyone. I think it’s helped me a lot [for] my career. I improved my ranking, Top 50 [too].”
Karatsev joined Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev as a part of Russia’s ATP Cup title-winning team prior to the Australian Open. Medvedev plays Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second Australian Open semi-final on Friday.