© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Aslan Karatsev has played nine sets to reach the Australian Open third round.

Karatsev Rallies Again To Reach AO R3

Russian looking to make another deep run at Melbourne Park

More success means more matches, and that doesn’t always make things easy. Just ask Aslan Karatsev.

The 18th seed had treatment on his leg after three games but was able to summon enough energy to battle past American Mackenzie McDonald 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 Wednesday night in the second round of the Australian Open.

There were just 48 hours between the Russian’s victory over Andy Murray in the Sydney Tennis Classic final and his four-hour, 52 minute first-round epic in Melbourne with Jaume Munar on Monday. All the time spent on court appeared to be catching up with him early against McDonald, as he went 3-0 down early in the first set and immediately called for the physio.

World No. 55 McDonald saw out the first set but whatever had bothered the Russian early on seemed to fade away as his powerful baseline game came to the fore and he eased to victory in two hours and 33 minutes on Kia Arena.

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It was the first meeting between two players who both made a name for themselves in Melbourne a year ago: Karatsev stunned Diego Schwartzman, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Grigor Dimitrov on his way to the semi-finals (l. to Djokovic), while McDonald made the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time before losing to Daniil Medvedev.

Karatsev has made sustained progress since that run in Melbourne, culminating last week with his third tour-level title in Sydney. A key factor in this success has been his ability to hit clean winners, and he led comfortably in this category once again against McDonald, hitting 43 compared to his opponent’s 19.

After his bright start the American struggled on serve, with Karatsev breaking seven times on his way to victory. The Russian established early leads in the second and third sets and never looked back. Although breaks were exchanged early in the fourth, Karatsev crunched a forehand for another break at 4-2 that was ultimately enough to see him through.

The next test for Karatsev is another player he has never faced before, Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The World No. 69 set the third-round clash by shocking 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 earlier on Wednesday.

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