We’ve had rotten luck with the draw here and have drawn Andre Agassi in the second round. At least there’s a creampuff qualifier before him. Phillip King (USA) has groundies in the 60s, and everything else worse than that. Should be a cinch for Ivo.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Phillip King (USA) 6-0 6-2
This match was the calm before the storm: all Ivo, all the time. King put together a couple holds at the end, but other than that he couldn’t do anything.
Here he is, the current number 1. Surprisingly, his stats aren’t quite as good as expected (they’re actually a bit worse than Corretja’s—WTF Manu!). Agassi only has a forehand in the low 90s and backhand in the high 80s to go along with a serve in the 80s. Even so, Ivo still has no real shot, if he couldn’t beat Corretja or Enqvist on grass.
In 2005, I started to watch tennis a bit more than I had in the past. I especially followed Andre Agassi, who by then was in the swan song of his career. At the US Open that year, Andre had his last run at a major. He made it all the way to the final, only to lose to that guy-who-I-wish-had-never-picked-up-a-tennis-racquet, Roger Federer. On his way to the final, Andre faced none other than Dr. Ivo in the third round. It was a tight match, with Andre eventually prevailing in three tiebreaks. This was the first I had seen of Dr. Ivo, and I was amazed at how much he could do with no other weapons than a serve. I could see then that it was only a matter of a few points here or there that tipped the match in Agassi’s favor. That’s why Dr. Ivo is so dangerous on any given day.
In this match, the first set reminded me of that one in the 2005 USO. Both men had a few chances on the other’s serve, but each held throughout, only for Agassi to dominate the tiebreak. Then in the second set, Ivo’s game picked up. He was able to get into net more, and, after having break points in three straight games, he finally broke Agassi at 2-2. In the next game, Ivo had to fight off three break points of his own, but he did hold, and was able to serve out the set. The third set was quite similar, with Ivo breaking in the middle of the set and Andre having a chance to get back on serve, but Ivo once again held strong on break points to win the match.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Andre Agassi (USA) 6-7(3) 6-4 6-4
This is by far Ivo’s best victory so far in this campaign. I did not expect him to beat the number one player in the world at this point. We’ll hope he can capitalize on breaking the draw in Indianapolis wide open.
Our reward for beating Agassi is Gianluca Pozzi (ITA), a varied player with no real weapons to speak of. Ivo better beat him if he can beat Agassi.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Gianluca Pozzi (ITA) 6-3 6-3
Pozzi turned out to be somewhat difficult to break, but that was about it. He couldn’t do anything to Ivo’s serve, and never got a break point.
The best player in tennis history is our next opponent. Roger Federer (SUI) is only ranked 45th in the world at this point, and his stats are virtually all in the 60s. I’ll give Ivo the slight edge here, but I have to say we’re lucky to catch Fed this early in his career.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Roger Federer (SUI) 5-7 6-4 7-5
It’s surprising that none of these sets went to a tiebreak. Each one was on serve until very late in the set. After the first set, I decided to be more aggressive, and that worked. Usually, whoever got to the net first won the point. Ivo was only able to hit one passing shot winner in the whole match. But at the end of both the second and third sets, Ivo was able to catch a couple of breaks and convert both of the chances he had on Federer’s serve.
Next up is Jared Palmer (USA), a volleyer with net skills in the 80s. I fully expect this match to have no breaks at all. Ivo can’t pass worth beans, and it’s quite difficult to pass him as well.Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Jared Palmer (USA) 6-3 7-6(5)
Well, there was one easy game where Ivo sliced the ball past Palmer for a break, but the rest was not easy going. A stat I overlooked was Palmer’s poor speed, which explains why Ivo was able to ace him 17 times and why he was able to pass him sometimes.
As unlikely as it seemed to begin with, Ivo has made his first ATP final! He will face Cedric Pioline (FRA) there. Pioline has a good serve (power and precision around 90) and decent groundstrokes and volleys. His style is varied, and there doesn’t really seem to be a facet of his game that’s lacking. He’ll be a tough opponent. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Cedric Pioline (FRA) 6-4 6-4
In the first set, Ivo broke in the first game and never let up. The second set had a chance to go the same way, but Ivo failed to convert two break points in the first game. Pioline gave him another opportunity at 2-2, however, and Ivo took this one. Ivo’s serve was rock-solid once again, and he served out the match. First ATP title for the big man!