World No. 20 Aslan Karatsev said he absolutely enjoys playing in Australia after reaching the Sydney final.
Karatsev, seeded at No. 1, edged out third-seeded Dan Evans 6-3 6-7 (13) 6-3 in the Sydney semifinal.
Karatsev burst onto the scene last year, when he made the Australian Open semifinal as a qualifier.
A year later, 28-year-old Karatsev returned to Australia and made the Sydney final in his first tournament of the season.
After the Evans win, Karatsev was asked why he performs so well in Australia.
“I like to be here”, said Karatsev, per the ATP website. “You arrive from winter to summer, there is nice weather and a nice atmosphere. You start the year fresh and with more energy, so I think this is the reason.”
Karatsev survived the Evans challenge
The two players were tied at one game apiece in the first set before Karatsev claimed back-to-back breaks to take a 5-1 lead.
Evans got one break back in the seventh game but Karatsev routinely served out for the opener in the ninth game.
As no breaks were seen in the second set, the set had to be resolved in a tie-break.
Evans saved a total of three match points before realizing his sixth set point to force a decider.
After blowing three match points in the second set, Karatsev also blew an early third set break.
However, Karatsev kept his focus as he broke Evans again in the eighth game and served out for the match in the following game.
“It was a tough match against Evans,” said Karatsev. “He’s a guy who doesn’t give you any free points at all.”
Karatsev will be battling former world No. 1 Andy Murray for the Sydney title.
Murray spoke highly of Karatsev ahead of the final.
“Karatsev, yeah, I have never played against him. I have practiced with him one time in the grass last year. He’s obviously a huge, huge ball striker. Really strong guy. Huge pair of calves on him,” Murray said, per Reem Abulleil.