We’ve left Central America and flown halfway around the world to Israel just to play another tournament on cement. I should mention that we took a week off to travel, train, and rest. Ivo’s serve is now at 70 power, 65 consistency, and 65 precision, and his speed is still at 40. No other stats have any points in them. Unfortunately, Ivo’s ranking didn’t rise too much—he’s still in the 900s—so we have to enter yet another qualifying draw.
This time, we’ve drawn Filippo Messori (ITA), a defender with not much to brag about. This is another one of those “If Ivo doesn’t win, it’s time to hang up the racket” matches, and I won’t say any more about it.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Filippo Messori (ITA) 6-2 6-1
Ivo didn’t play particularly well; Messori’s just an awful player. He couldn’t really do anything. He broke Ivo once, but was basically inept at holding his own serve.
Vasco Antunes (POR) is Ivo’s next opponent. He’s essentially a little bit worse version of Behrend, so it should be pretty difficult. His serve and forehand are good, but everything else is worse than Behrend’s, so I think we have a chance here. Another thing I might add is that he’s the first lefty we’ve faced, though I don’t think that makes too much of a difference in this game.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Vasco Antunes (POR) 3-6 6-1 6-4
Ivo was up a break in all 3 sets. In the first, Antunes broke back and kept it up. In the 2nd, Ivo played unbelievably and came very close to bageling Antunes. In the 3rd, a server’s duel with just one break ensued, with Ivo taking advantage of his sole opportunity.
Didac Perez (ESP) is our final opponent in the qualifying draw. He’s your typical Spaniard: a defender with good groundies but not much else. It should be tough though, because his groundies are in the 50s. It’ll be all about whether Ivo can stay at net or if Perez can lob him and get him back to the baseline.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Didac Perez (ESP) 6-4 6-4
It wasn’t easy, but Ivo kept holding serve and it turned out that that was all he needed to do. Perez gave him a chance at breaking in each set, and ivo took that chance. In the second set, there were break points against Ivo’s serve, but he saved them with solid net play.
In the first round we have Javier Genaro-Martinez, another Spanish defender! This guy’s like Perez except he’s faster but his groundstrokes aren’t as good. If we can beat one, why not the other? (yes, I know I’ve been caught dead with this before)Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Javier Genaro-Martinez (ESP) 7-5 1-6 6-0
The second set was an absolute mental lapse, but the rest was pretty good. Ivo got broken 3 total times in the match, but he broke JGM 4 times. Nothing of Ivo’s was particularly solid, but it’s good to get a win when you’re not playing at your best.
Next up is Dante Cipulli (ARG), the counterpuncher we lost to in 3 sets in Guatemala F1. I think Ivo’s improved since then, and he should win.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Dante Cipulli (ARG) 7-5 6-3
This match was tougher than the score suggests. There were a TON of breaks, and Cipulli never let Ivo pull out to a huge lead. Although it was easy enough to break the Cipulli serve, Cipulli was up in Ivo’s grill no matter how good the serve coming at him was. I’m glad to get through this match and to make our 2nd straight quarterfinal and to take revenge on ol' Cipulli!
In the Quarters, we’ve got Steve Guy (NZL), a power baseliner with skills very similar to Didac Perez’s (groundstrokes in the 50s, not much else to speak of). I don’t know how much difference the style will make, but something tells me this guy’s (no pun intended) going to be harder to take down.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Steve Guy (NZL) 7-6(5) 7-6(4)
This match was a dandy. Guy broke Ivo in the first game, but let him back into it with a total of 7 break points in his first two service games, with Ivo capitalizing on the 7th. From there the serve prevailed until the tiebreak, which Ivo took with solid serving and opportunistic play on Guy’s serve. The second set transpired in a similar fashion to the first: Ivo got up a break in the first game and held onto it until 5-4, when he failed to serve for the match. Then each man held serve once more to get to the tiebreak, where Ivo won all but one point on serve and used his chances on Guy’s serve. Good to make our first semi, but let’s get further!
Eric Taino (PHI) is up next. He’s a puncher with groundies in the 50s, a decent serve, and some solid volleys to top it off. Should be another difficult match. I should also mention that he took out Eric Prodon, the guy who let Ivo have only 2 games in Guatemala F2, in the quarterfinals. He’s also a lefty, and if Vasco Antunez was any indication, that means more trouble for Ivo.Eric Taino (PHI) def. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-3 6-1
Taino was very tough to do anything against. Whenever Ivo would put a big serve in, Taino would just come up with a better pass. His groundstrokes and net play were way too solid, and he was able to take Ivo off the net with lobs when his first passing shot failed. It’s been a good run, but it’s still a bit disappointing to lose this badly.