Unfancied Asian Karatsev ended the ATP 500 reign of near-untouchable Andrey Rublev on Friday to move into the final in Dubai.
Rublev had won his last 23 matches at the 500 level, standing five short of the all-time best of Roger Federer.
Karatsev’s 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 success in two and a quarter hours put the 42nd-ranked Russian wild card into a freak final against the first qualifier to ever get this far here – Lloyd Harris.
The South African made his own bit of tournament history with a 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(6) win over Denis Shapovalov.
Karatsev is the first wild card since Thomas Muster in 1997 to reach the local final.
Even after winning his last four 500 events dating to Hamburg in September, Rublev was vulnerable to kryptonite from his fellow Russians.
The No. 8 dropped to 1-8 against countrymen, beating his last compatriot (Mikhail Youzhny) at Halle four years ago.
The last time Rublev lost at a 500 tournament was here a year ago to Brit Dan Evans – a second-round victim of Karatsev this week.
Karatsev fired 41 winners and had 16 break chances (converting four) as he ran his record this breakthrough season to 11-2.
“It feels great, I started pretty well and played aggressive,” the winner said.
“I could tell he wasn’t feeling comfortable from the baseline. In the third set I was up 5-2 but he got it to 5-4.
“That’s a tough point – anything can happen, but I closed out the match in the end.
“I’m feeling good on the court, I brought confidence here from the Australian Open.
“I’m looking forward to playing the final against a new opponent whom I’ve never even practised with.”
Main photo:- Aslan Karatsev brings Andry Rublev’s winning streak to an end in Dubai by ATPTour.com