Aslan Karatsev has been voted Most Improved Player of the Year in the 2021 ATP Awards, after rising from No. 112 in the FedEx ATP Rankings at the start of the season to a career-high No. 15 in November.
“I am really happy to win this award,” Karatsev said. “It means a lot to me and I am really happy to get this. Thank you very much.”
Karatsev’s season began against Brandon Nakashima in the first round of qualifying at the Australian Open when the Russian was No. 114. Fast forward one month and he had reached the semi-finals at the first major of the season, defeating Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov before losing to Novak Djokovic.
It was a run that gave Karatsev a renewed sense of belief and confidence, which he showcased in Dubai, where he soared to his first tour-level title, defeating Lloyd Harris in the championship match.
In a breakthrough season, the 28-year-old also triumphed on home soil in Moscow, reached the final in Belgrade and scored Top 2 wins against Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, finishing the year in the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
“It’s not just happening right now, there is [a lot of] work that was done before [to get here],” Karatsev said in April. “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 coming from the hard work every day, and it’s a long process. You have to be there every day and work hard.”
Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion Carlos Alcaraz, BNP Paribas Open titlist Cameron Norrie and 2021 Nitto ATP Finals semi-finalist Casper Ruud were also nominated in this category, having all reached a significantly higher FedEx ATP Ranking by the year’s end.