Aslan Karatsev’s chances of closing on a Nitto ATP Finals berth received a boost at the BNP Paribas Open on Monday, after the Russian defeated ninth seed Denis Shapovalov in straight sets.
The 28-year-old, 12th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, claimed the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting 7-5, 6-2 to win two matches in consecutive tournaments for the first time since Madrid and Rome in May. While Shapovalov struck four more winners than his opponent’s 12, his 26 unforced errors – including 15 off the forehand – were 12 more than the Russian committed.
Karatsev had not tasted the level of success in recent months as he had at the start of the season, on runs which included a maiden ATP 500 trophy in Dubai and a first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open. Before San Diego leading in, he had not beaten a Top 20 opponent since countryman Daniil Medvedev in Rome, but has now beaten two in as many weeks.
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Defeat of Hubert Hurkacz sent him into the quarter-finals in San Diego before his victory over Shapovalov sent him through to the fourth round at Indian Wells on debut. He awaits the winner of eighth seed Hurkacz or American Frances Tiafoe.
“The first thing you want to try to do is keep focusing because the weather conditions were tough for both of us,” Karatsev said. “The first set I tried to find my serve, especially on the second serve, it didn’t work. The main goal was to keep focused… It was super windy today.
“[It’s my] first time here in Indian Wells. It’s an amazing place. It’s nice to be here, to stay here, the atmosphere is really cool. The stadium is almost full, so it’s really nice to play.”
Karatsev had a pair of break points early at 2-2, but did not get another look-in on his opponent’s serve until the crucial 11th game when he converted the only break of the first set for 6-5 when Shapovalov missed a backhand volley.
The Russian closed out the set in just under an hour and only had to wait 12 minutes before he landed the first break of the second set at 1-1. The errors only mounted for the Canadian as he surrendered the double break and Karatsev closed it out a game later at the 97-minute mark.