Analysis: Karatsev's devastating debut full of force

  • Alex Sharp

Aslan Karatsev is thriving in his Grand Slam debut at Australian Open 2021.

The Russian qualifier continues to defy the odds, having taken out two seeded players en route to the quarterfinals.

The world No.114, the lowest-ranked men’s quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park in 30 years, belted 50 winners past world No.9 Diego Schwartzman in the third round and struck 37 during his stunning comeback from two sets down against 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Thanks to insights powered by Infosys, it’s evident the free-hitting 27-year-old is unleashing his full firepower to attack with devastating effect.

Of the eight players remaining in the men's singles draw, Karatsev is ranked No.1 for average forehand and backhand speed. The Russian is also making an impact with brave, blistering serves.

Rafael Nadal, famous for his forehand, is third on the list of forehand shot speeds with an average strike of 127.3km/h. Andrey Rublev, another player notable for a monstrous forehand, comes in second at an average of 128.6km/h.

READ MORE: Mental gains key to Karatsev breakthrough

Karatsev, however, is fizzing forehands harder than anyone, at an average speed of 132.8km/h.

It’s a similar tale on the backhand side. World No.2 Nadal is again in third spot, averaging 116.3km/h off his racket. AO 2020 semifinalist Alexander Zverev pitches in second place, with118.4km/h.

Karatsev once again leads the way, well ahead with a 122.3km/h average speed on his backhand. 

The qualifier is a threat off both wings, able to apply the pressure at any moment.

The Russian is also keeping points short, eager to take the first strike.

This is highlighted by the crucial third shot average speed, another list topped by Karatsev. Nadal, once again in second place with an average of 126.1km/h, is the only player close to matching the pace produced by Karatsev, who is averaging 132.9km/h on the third strike in rallies.

Dimitrov has excelled on return, but must be wary in his quarterfinal match-up against Karatsev, who is also averaging the third-fastest first-serve speed (198km/h), trailing only Zverev and Daniil Medvedev.

READ MORE: Dimitrov halts Thiem, will face Karatsev in QF

In a brave and bold approach, Karatsev is keeping opponents guessing on his second delivery, averaging the second-fastest speed (168km/h) of the remaining quarterfinalists, just behind world No.7 Zverev at 169.3km/h.

It's a case of high risk, high reward for the qualifier so far at AO 2021.