Both finalists in Dubai were hoping to end their dream weeks on a high by picking up the prestigious Dubai Duty Free Tennis trophy and that distinction fell to Aslan Karatsev, the Russian wild card entry, who blasted his way to the title at the expense of Lloyd Harris, the South African qualifier.
At the beginning of the year, to play an Australian Open semi-final, to show a great level. After the Australian Open, I kept going, practicing hard. I arrived here with more belief than in Doha. I showed a fantastic week and a good game Aslan Karatsev
He required 75-minutes to sweep aside his younger opponent 6-3 6-2 to pick up his first career title at ATP 500 level as he continued what he had started at the ATP Cup as a member of the Russian team which won the trophy.
He was referred to by his compatriot Daniil Medvedev, the Russian team leader, as their ‘secret weapon’ and he has certainly lived up to that by then making the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Prior to January, the 27-year-old had won just three matches on the Tour and while he lost in the second round to Dominic Thiem in Doha last week, he certainly made up for that blip in Dubai.
“I am really happy with my performance and really happy with my game,” he said following his win.
“At the beginning of the year, to play an Australian Open semi-final, to show a great level. After the Australian Open, I kept going, practicing hard.
“I arrived here with more belief than in Doha. I showed a fantastic week and a good game.”
His opponent meanwhile, the 23-year-old Springbok qualifier disappointment at losing his second final on the tour but the week has played a strong part in building up his confidence which included wins over Thiem and Denis Shapovalov and there is no doubt Harris has a good future.
“There are so many positives to take from this week, coming through seven matches,” the 24-year-old said. “Aslan today was just too good.
Sometimes it happens like that and you have just got to take all the big [positives] from the week, move forward and take them into the next tournaments.”
Karatsev made the perfect start in the final, directing his powerful groundstrokes into Harris’ forehand corner and breaking serve in his first return game. The Russian opened up the court on a regular basis to dominate proceedings eventually clinching the event and the $149,490 champion’s cheque with an overhead winner.
Overall he struck 27 winners and saved the two break points he faced and joined his teammates on te winners rostrum, Medvedev having won in Marseille and Andrey Rublev in Rotterdam.
“I am super happy. It was a tight match. [I was] really nervous,” Karatsev said during his on-court interview. “I want to congratulate my opponent for the final He did a great week… I am happy that I won.
“You never know when [success] is coming,” Karatsev added. “I did a good job with my team, with my coach and it has happened now.”
Ranked 42 he should see that improve into the 30s when the new listings are announced on Monday.
Meanwhile he is the third wild card to pick up the Dubai joining Wayne Ferreira of South Africa (1995) and Austrian Thomas Muster (1997),