Russian-Israeli tennis player Aslan Karatsev, who represents the Russian Olympic Committee at the Tokyo Games, has won a silver medal after losing Sunday’s mixed doubles final.
Karatsev and his doubles partner Elena Vesnina lost in three sets against another Russian duo, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev.
Karatsev, 27, plays for Russia but grew up and trained in Israel and is fluent in Hebrew.
The duo defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his partner Nina Stojanovic will advance to the final on Friday.
Karatsev was born in Vladikavkaz, Russia, but said in an interview in March that he moved to Israel when he was three years old and started playing there.
I grew up there, practiced there until I was 12, and then I moved back to Russia with my father. Then I lived in Rostov. I practiced there until I was 18, then I started practicing in Moscow, he said.
The 27-year-old became the first man to reach the semifinals during his Open-era Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open in February. He later won his first ATP Tour title by beating Lloyd Harris in the Dubai final.
In recent years, Karatsev has traveled to competitions all over Europe, but until recently without great success. However, when tennis tournaments restarted last August 2020 after a five-month hiatus due to COVID-19, he won 18 of his last 20 ATP Challenger Tour matches, including two trophies.
In 2019, he visited Israel to sort out some personal business, according to the Hebrew-language One sports website. During his training in Tel Aviv, Karatsev, who still holds an Israeli passport, showed the locals that in addition to his racket skills, he still speaks fluent Hebrew.
As a young, eager player in Israel, he met and played against Amir Weintraub, who, according to One, would become an Israeli professional tennis player (with a world highest ranking of 161).
Although he clearly showed potential, financial hardships prevented Karatsev from developing his natural talent, the site said, and he eventually returned to Russia with his father. His mother and sister stayed in Israel.
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