Aslan Karatsev says he is no overnight sensation, and he has been working hard for years to get the success he is now enjoying.
Karatsev was ranked 253rd in the world this time last year, but he now sits at number 27 after a stunning 2021 so far.
Since the turn of the year he has reached the Australian Open semi-final, won his first ATP Tour title in Dubai, beat Novak Djokovic, and narrowly lost in the final of the Serbian Open.
His sudden rise has seen many tennis fans and analysts scratching their heads to explain it, but he insists there is no mystery to it at all.
“It’s not just happening right now, there is [a lot of] work that was done before [to get here],” Karatsev said after losing the Belgrade final to Matteo Berrettini.
“I had some injuries before and some troubles, and now we’re doing a good job with my coach. It’s been two and a half years and it’s just paying off in 2021.
“It’s not like it’s coming all of a sudden from nowhere. It’s coming from the hard work every day, and it’s a long process. You have to be there every day and work hard.”
“It’s also a process, you have to work and be in practice every day and improve your game, mentally and physically. It’s not like it’s all arriving right now and that’s it.”
Karatsev took the Serbian Open all the way to a deciding set tiebreak on Sunday before running out of steam, but he was keen to credit Berrettini for how he played.
“I think it could be from the match yesterday (against Djokovic), I wasn’t there in every point,” Karatsev said.
“But all credit to him, he played fantastic in the end and served really well. I couldn’t really serve or go for the big shots, going around the forehand.
“At the tie-break, he was serving unbelievable. I wasn’t there. There were some points where I wasn’t there, and he did well in the tie-break as well, pushing me to the limit.”
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