Karatsev Reaches Tokyo SFs, Derails De Minaur’s Turin Bid

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Aslan Karatsev continued to demonstrate just how dangerous his big-hitting game can be Friday at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Championships.

The World No. 50 downed fourth seed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-2 to add a third straight-sets victory to his Tokyo run after earlier wins against Frances Tiafoe and Zhang Zhizhen. Karatsev converted three of five break points he earned and saved all five he faced to wrap a 96-minute win inside Ariake Coliseum.

“[I'm] playing well. I kept to my plan and kept my head clear,” said Karatsev. “[I stayed] calm in important moments. He had a few chances to break me. He's a dangerous player. He always gives you the ball back deep and low. I think the key was to stay focused and keep my plan.”

Karatsev's raw baseline power proved too hot to handle for De Minaur, who was the last seed standing at the ATP 500 event. Despite De Minaur deploying plenty of typically stout defence, he was unable to disrupt Karatsev's rhythm frequently enough as the 30-year-old powered 21 winners, including 15 off his forehand wing, to his Australian opponent's five.

Alexei Popyrin or #NextGenATP home favourite Shintaro Mochizuki will be Karatsev's semi-final opponent as he chases his fourth ATP Tour title and his first since Sydney in January 2022. Karatsev acknowleged he was feeling good on court in Tokyo but was reluctant to make any comparisons to his only previous ATP 500 title run in 2021 in Dubai.

“It's a different year, a different season,” said Karatsev. “Coming for some weeks in China, where I made the semis [in Zhuhai] and lost in Shanghai, I was able to practise and come here earlier, so I could prepare here physically and mentally. I'm playing well.”

Friday's defeat was a major blow to De Minaur's chances of making a late charge towards the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals as the Australian was unable to capitalise on Tommy Paul's defeat to Ben Shelton earlier in the day in Tokyo. De Minaur remains 13th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, 35 points behind 12th-placed Paul and 550 points behind Holger Rune in eighth.

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