Aslan Karatsev defeated qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-3 6-2 in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday to claim the first ATP Tour title of his career. He is the first Russian to win the prestigious title, after Marat Safin in 2001 and Mikhail Youzhny in 2007 and 2010 both finished as runner-up, and it is the first time since the series started in 2009 that a wild card and a qualifier were meeting in an ATP 500 final..
He is the first wild card to compete in the Dubai final since Thomas Muster in 1997, and he joins Muster and Wayne Ferreira in 1995 as the third wild card to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in the tournament’s 29-year history.
The doubles final featured four of the top five players in the world, with the title going to top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah who defeated second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 7-6(0) 7-6(4). It is their first title since they won the US Open in 2019.
“We congratulate Aslan Karatsev on his victory and Lloyd Harris on his wonderful tournament,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “It was thrilling to watch their performances throughout the week and witness the upsets they both produced to rightly earn their place in the final. They have both achieved a significant milestone in their careers this week and we are delighted that they have done so in Dubai, and we very much look forward to welcoming them back in 2022.
“We also congratulate our 2021 doubles champions, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who had to work very hard to overcome their opponents, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.”
Karatsev has not lost this year to anyone outside of the top five, falling to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and to Dominic Thiem in Doha, and he was never under any real pressure against Harris as early breaks in each set gave him an invaluable cushion.
A break for 2-0 gave Karatsev the perfect start and, after Harris failed to take advantage of a break point back in the next game, Karatsev kept the pressure on, holding three break points to lead 5-1. Harris held off that challenge, but Karatsev went on to take the set.
In the second set, Karatsev broke to lead 1-0, held two break points to lead 3-0 and after holding off a break point to hold for 4-2 he broke Harris again and served out the next game at love to claim victory in just 75 minutes.
“I’m really happy with my performance. I’m really happy with my game at the beginning of the year, to play Australia semi-final, to show a great level,”, said Karatsev, who on Friday earned the biggest victory of his career, ending the 23- match ATP 500 win streak of world number eight Andrey Rublev. “And then after the Australian Open to keep going, practising hard and I arrived here and showed great belief, good game. In the final everyone is more nervous but I tried to keep the (game) plan.”, said Karatsev, who on Friday earned the biggest victory of his career, ending the 23- match ATP 500 win streak of world number eight Andrey Rublev.
Despite his defeat, Harris was still feeling upbeat about what he had achieved during the best week of his career.
“Today was a really difficult match. He came out firing and broke me in the first game and he caught me a little bit by surprise,” said Harris, who is the first qualifier to advance past the quarter-finals in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and who was attempting to become the first winner from South Africa since Wayne Ferreira in 1995.
“(But) There are so many positives to take from this week. Aslan today was just too good but sometimes it happens like that and I’m just going to take all the big ups from the week and take it into the next tournament.” “This week must be considered as one of the most exciting in the history of the tournament,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “We have enjoyed so many competitive matches in which the outcome was uncertain right up until the last ball had been hit, and both Aslan Karatsev and Lloyd Harris have played a full role in the excitement as they overcame top 10 opposition to reach the final. Even the doubles final, finishing in two tiebreaks, kept us wondering who the winner would be. Now we eagerly look forward to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2022.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.