Aslan Karatsev has been one of the breakthrough stars of 2021, having made the Australian Open semi-finals as a qualifier and claimed his first ATP Tour title in Dubai.
Karatsev, who is competing this week at the San Diego Open, is making a push to earn a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. ATPTour.com caught up with the 28-year-old to discuss his life on Tour, why he is not a fan of flying, his craziest travel story and more.
What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?
I’ll go with a laptop and big headphones to listen to music.
Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?
I don’t like flying, so it’s not like I enjoy flying. The takeoff and landing are not fun. Now it’s getting better and better with time. But from the beginning, when I was 20, 21, I had some issues with airplanes. I’d get a bit scared.
Did something happen on one of your early flights or you just never liked flying?
I don’t remember [when or where]. Something happened where we couldn’t land. There was a lot of circling around the airport. Also the turbulence. Some people are saying it doesn’t affect the airplane, but still when you’re jumping in the airplane [it bothers you].
How do you deal with that these days? Do you have a routine to calm yourself down a little bit?
I don’t think about it that much. I have to fly, so I just take a ticket and I fly. I try not to think about it and that’s it.
What is your favourite city you have been to for a tournament and why?
Melbourne. It’s really nice. In general it’s a really nice city. I like the people, I like the city, the restaurants. Everything is nice.
Where is your favourite vacation destination?
I had one vacation. It was so boring, I don’t know if I would go again. Normally I just go to my hometown [in Russia] and rest there. I like more activities, so I don’t like when you lay down on the beach. Snowboarding, skiing, these sorts of activities I like. I don’t do it a lot, but when I can, when I have the offseason, I snowboard. I started when I was 18.
What is your craziest travel story?
I was playing a junior tournament in Yucatan in Mexico. I was in Rostov, so I was flying two hours to Moscow, then waiting 12 hours in the airport. And then 12 hours to New York, waiting eight hours in the airport. Six hours to Mexico City, waiting 17 hours in the airport and then flying three more hours to Yucatan. This was the longest trip I’ve ever had.
Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimate to the local time zone?
When I go to Asia, it’s harder for me than when I go to the United States. Normally the flight to Melbourne you arrive in the morning, so you don’t have to go to the room and sleep. I did it once and it was a mistake. Now I just put the luggage and I just go on a walk for six, seven hours. I just don’t stay in the room, otherwise you fall asleep.
I just walk around every city. I like to walk around, with music sometimes. The next year in Melbourne I just walked six, seven hours sitting, drinking coffee, and then I walked more.
Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?
One hour or 45 minutes before I arrive. I don’t want to sit there.
Have you ever missed a flight?
Yes. I messed it up with p.m and a.m. flying to Australia. Not this year, but many, many years ago.