Karlovic left longing for more after ace-tastic epic

By Agence France-Presse in Melbourne | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-19 07:43

Marathon man Ivo Karlovic said he had been hoping to set a world record for the longest tennis match before his epic 84-game victory over Horacio Zeballos ended on Tuesday.

Karlovic smashed 75 aces, an Australian Open record, and 84 games set a new tiebreak-era mark for the tournament before he finally sealed it 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20.

Karlovic and Zeballos played for five hours and 15 minutes, one of the longest matches in the tournament's history, in an astonishing first-round encounter on Court 19.

But their efforts paled in comparison to John Isner's world-record win over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, which lasted for 11 hours, five minutes and stretched to 183 games.

In that duel, Isner served a world-record 113 aces, closely followed by Mahut's 103.

Karlovic's 75 was not his highest total in a match, falling just shy of the 78 he served against Radek Stepanek in a Davis Cup tie in 2009.

When asked whether he had been desperate for the match to conclude, Croatian Karlovic answered: "Well, no.

"Actually I was thinking about that other match, Isner against Mahut. I was hoping a little bit it could go this long so I could also have the record."

Karlovic left longing for more after ace-tastic epic

The denouement, when it finally came, was almost comical as an exhausted Karlovic chipped a hopeful lob over Zeballos, only for the Argentine to send a wayward forehand rocketing out of the court.

Karlovic, 37, roared in delight and pranced around court as he completed the ironman comeback from two sets down against the deflated Zeballos.

"This is up there definitely with all of them. It was a real difficult match. It was also difficult mentally because I was down 2-0," Karlovic said.

"I had to also fight against him and against my own head, you know. So it was definitely really difficult."

Race to recover

The match beat the Aussie Open's previous tiebreak-era record of 83 games, set in Andy Roddick's defeat of Younes El Aynaoui in 2003.

But it stopped the clock short of the five hours, 53 minutes played by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the men's singles final of 2012.

The 6ft 11in Karlovic now holds the record for aces in a single match at three of the four Grand Slams, but is still some way back from Isner's 2010 Wimbledon record of 113.

In 2009 Karlovic, who holds the record of more than 11,000 career aces, fired 78 aces in a Davis Cup match against the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek - and still lost.

He now faces a race to recover before his second-round match in Melbourne on Thursday, against Australian wildcard Andrew Whittington.

"Arm is good, but my knee, my back, little bit not so good. Elbow," he said.

"I don't know how I will recover. I have two days now. Tomorrow off. I will not even hit.

"I'm just going to do the ice bath, try to hit good, go to sleep early. Hopefully that will be enough."

He added: "This is what I will, after my career, remember. If it was an easy match or I lost easy, I wouldn't remember. But this one definitely I will remember forever."

(China Daily 01/19/2017 page24)

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349