Israeli-Russian tennis player Aslan Karatsev has stunned the sporting world in recent days, becoming the first player in 25 years to reach the Australian Open’s quarterfinals on his debut tournament.
The 27-year-old Karatsev plays for Russia but grew up and trained in Israel and speaks fluent Hebrew. However, he left the country at age 16, and recent days have seen the leaders of the Israel Tennis Association shaking their heads at their failure to identify his talent while he was here.
Karatsev was a virtual unknown before the latest tournament started, but has already defeated several giants.
Karatsev, ranked 114, is the first Grand Slam debutant to reach the quarterfinals at a major since Romanian Alex Radulescu at Wimbledon in 1996 and only the seventh in the Open era.
He is the first qualifier to achieve the feat since Australia’s Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon in 2011 and only the third at the Australian Open after Bob Giltinan in 1977 and Goran Ivanisevic in 1989.
The bearded Karatsev has been on the verge of playing a Grand Slam for years, but on nine previous attempts the injury-dogged Russian fell in qualifying.