Aslan Karatsev and Hubert Hurkacz are both battling for a maiden berth into the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November. But on Thursday it was Karatsev who advanced to the San Diego Open quarter-finals with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory.
The Russian, who broke through to the Australian Open semi-finals as a qualifier at the beginning of the year, is 12th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. Hurkacz is in eighth, just ahead of ninth-placed Casper Ruud, who is the second seed in San Diego.
“I try not to think about it,” Karatsev said. “I just try to compete every tournament, every match, practise every day. In the end, we will see who is going to be in Turin.”
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This was the first ATP Head2Head clash between Karatsev and Hurkacz. Karatsev struggled landing his first serve in the first set, giving his Polish opponent an opportunity to dig into rallies.
But as the match wore on, Karatsev’s firepower helped him turn the tide. The 28-year-old did not lose serve in the final two sets to triumph after two hours and 28 minutes against last week’s Metz champion, who also earned crowns in Delray Beach and Miami earlier in the year.
“It was a good match, a tough opponent… [Hurkacz] just came from a big win in France,” Karatsev said. “The first set I had an opportunity, had some easy mistakes in the important moments to close the set. I didn’t get those chances.
“I found a way in the second set to break him at 3-3 and was playing better and better… I continued to play [well] in the third set. I broke him immediately in the third set. I think I played aggressive, too. It’s really important against this kind of player to dictate the point, because he’s really good on defence.”