Aslan Karatsev clinches his second tour-level final of the season on Sunday in Moscow.

Karatsev Beats Cilic For Moscow Crown

Russian is 13th (2,280 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin

Aslan Karatsev captured his second tour-level title on Sunday at the VTB Kremlin Cup to keep alive his hopes of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

The Russian was strong on serve, overcoming two-time Moscow champion Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-4 in 77 minutes. Karatsev has now levelled his ATP Head2Head series with Cilic at 1-1, avenging his defeat to the Croatian in Cincinnati.

The second seed, who did not drop a set en route to the title, is 13th (2,280 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, 675 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole occupies the final qualification spot with eighth-placed Rafael Nadal out for the rest of the season with a foot injury.

“It is a dream come true,” Karatsev said in his on-court interview. “It is a tournament where I have played in qualifying at and now I am winning the tournament. Thank you for all of your support. It was a very nervous final game, I hit a double fault and then on break point there was that long rally, but I managed to win it in the end.”

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Karatsev had never been beyond the second round in four main-draw appearances at the ATP 250 event. With his victory, the home favourite has become the 10th different Russian to win the Moscow title in the tournament’s 31-year history.

In a fast start, Karatsev broke Cilic in the first game and served well throughout the opening set, not facing a break point and dropping just one point behind his first delivery to move ahead. The Russian continued to dictate in the second set, pinning Cilic behind the baseline with his backhand. Karatsev then seized further control in the seventh game of the second set as he broke again, before securing his victory on serve.

“First of all, I would like to dedicate my win to my parents, my mum and my father. All my relatives and all of my friends,” Karatsev added.

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The 28-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough 2021 season, reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open as a qualifier, before he lifted his maiden tour-level trophy in Dubai. Karatsev also advanced to the final in Belgrade.

Cilic, who triumphed in Moscow in 2014 and 2015, was aiming to win his 20th tour-level title. Earlier this season, the World No. 41 overcame Felix Auger-Aliassime in the championship match in Stuttgart.