Aslan Karatsev arrived at the cinch Championships without a grass-court tour-level match on his resumé, but it did not take the Russian long to adjust on Monday evening.
The 2021 breakthrough star rallied past Chilean lucky loser Alejandro Tabilo 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the second round at The Queen’s Club. Karatsev had only previously played four tournaments on this surface at any level — including two Wimbledon qualifying attempts in 2014 and 2015 — and tallied a 1-4 record.
“[It’s] completely different than the other surfaces,” Karatsev said in his on-court interview. “It was the first match, a tough opponent, lefty. I got used to it and in the end I found the way to manage it.”
The fifth seed struggled gaining control of points in the first set, in which he did not earn a break point. But Karatsev found his rhythm as the match wore on, and he won 75 per cent of his second-serve points en route to a one-hour, 38-minute victory.
“The second set was a bit tricky. I broke him, and then in the third set he started really slowly,” Karatsev said. “I got used to his serve and I returned everything that I could. It was easier for me [from there].”
Karatsev will next play British lefty Cameron Norrie, who clawed past Spanish veteran Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 earlier in the day. This will be their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
Norrie, like Karatsev, has enjoyed the best season of his career and he is up to a career-high No. 41 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The 25-year-old is now 26-12 in 2021, putting him fourth on this year’s match wins leaderboard according to Infosys ATP Stats.
Also moving on was two-time tournament champion Feliciano Lopez, who overpowered qualifier Illya Marchenko 6-1, 7-6(6) behind 12 aces. The 39-year-old Spaniard lifted both the singles and double (w/Andy Murray) trophies here two years ago.