Aslan Karatsev kept alive his slim hopes of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals on Friday at the VTB Kremlin Cup, downing Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-3 to reach his fourth tour-level semi-final of the season.
The Russian, who had never been beyond the second round in four previous main draw appearances in Moscow, is 13th (2,120 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, 835 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkack. The Pole occupies the last qualifying spot with Rafael Nadal missing the rest of the season due to a foot injury.
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In their first ATP Head2Head meeting, Karatsev broke Simon five times and won 76 per cent (22/29) of his first-serve points to advance after 86 minutes.
The 28-year-old has been one of the breakthrough stars of 2021. Karatsev enjoyed a dream run to the Australian Open semi-finals as a qualifier, before he lifted his first tour-level title in Dubai. The home favourite, who is yet to drop a set in Moscow, also advanced to the final in Belgrade.
On this meeting, Karatsev said: “I think it is great we are having an all-Russian semi-final, so I want the crowd to come and cheer for both of us.”
Khachanov won the title in Moscow in 2018 and is aiming to win his first tour-level trophy since he triumphed in Paris in the same year. The 25-year-old saved four second set points in his victory against Millman.