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The 6’11” Croatian fought back from an 0-2 sets deficit to beat Horacio Zeballos 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in five hours and 14 minutes on Tuesday night for a place in the second round. The match fell 38 minutes short of Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final, which lasted five hours and 53 minutes.
The Karlovic-Zeballos match lasted 84 games breaking the Australian Open record since the introduction of the tie-break in 1972, surpassing Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui's 2003 classic of 83 games – including a 21-19 fifth set.
“This match is what I will, after my career, remember,” said Karlovic. “If it was easy match or I lost easily, I wouldn't remember it. But this one I will definitely remember forever.
The 37-year-old Karlovic also fired down 75 aces, another Australian Open record – bettering Joachim Johansson’s 51 aces in 2005. It was just three aces shy of equalling Karlovic’s record 78 aces versus fellow veteran Radek Stepanek in the 2009 Davis Cup semi-finals.
One chance for each player went begging in the deciding set that lasted two hours and 41 minutes, before No. 20 seed Karlovic broke Zeballos’ serve for just the fourth time to end the encounter, which had begun mid-afternoon in 37°C (98.6F) heat. It was the longest fifth set in Australian Open history.
“My arm is good, but my knee, my back a little bit, is not so good,” said Karlovic. “I was just trying to hang in there, just point by point… [As the fifth set wore on], actually I was thinking about that other match: [John] Isner versus [Nicolas] Mahut (at 2010 Wimbledon, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set). I was hoping, a little bit, it could go that long so I could also have that record.”
Karlovic holds the US Open aces match record, which he set in a grueling five-set win over Yen-Hsun Lu in August 2016. Karlovic fired 61 aces – including 22 in the second set - to eclipse the previous US Open record of 49 set by Richard Krajicek in a losing effort to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1999. Read Report
The Croatian has now struck 11,689 aces in tour-level matches over the course of his 17-year professional career. Isner struck 1,159 aces to Karlovic's 1,131 aces in 2016, but the Croatian led the ATP World Tour circuit in 2015 with 1,447 aces (Isner - 1,260).
The ATP World Tour started to compile career ace records in 1991. They include aces served in main draw ATP World Tour and Grand Slam matches, and at the Olympic Games from 2008 onwards. Totals do not include aces served in Davis Cup.
Ivo Karlovic's Ace Count By Year (Since 2001):Year Aces Matches Aces Per Match 2017 117 4 29 2016 1131 54 21 2015 1447 63 23 2014 1185 64 19 2013 485 28 17 2012 506 30 17 2011 632 36 18 2010 472 25 19 2009 890 43 21 2008 961 54 18 2007 1318 64 21 2006 647 36 18 2005 730 39 19 2004 842 43 20 2003 281 16 18 2002 30 3 10 2001 16 1 16
See how the Emirates ATP Rankings look after week two of the 2017 ATP World Tour season, on 9 January 2017, following tournaments in Auckland and Sydney.
Finn Henri Kontinen joins his Aussie doubles partner John Peers for a stroll at St. Kilda ahead of their Australian Open campaign.
Gilles Muller is relishing the moment ahead of his second-round clash with Milos Raonic at the Australian Open, having won his first ATP World Tour title last week in Sydney at the age of 33.
Novak Djokovic began his quest for a record seventh Australian Open crown on Tuesday night when he defeated 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 in two hours and 23 minutes. The pair met 11 days ago in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals, with Djokovic saving five match points in the second set tie-break.
“I started really well,” said Djokovic. “[I played a] great first set and a great third set, as well. The second set was a long set with a lot of unforced errors from both sides. It was a gamble, really. He was two or three times a break up. I had my chances at 4-All, 5-All, many break points.
"But at the end of the day, I knew that winning second set would be crucial, because I definitely didn't want to give him wings. I didn't want to have him start swinging at the ball, as he knows. I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form and how well he played in Doha.”
World No. 2 Djokovic took a 5-0 lead at the start of the pair’s 14th meeting and despite being broken twice in the second set, the Serbian capitalised on winning the tie-break to open a 3-0 lead in the third set. He is now 58-6 at Melbourne Park and will next face Denis Istomin in the second round. Istomin beat Ivan Dodig 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
Grigor Dimitrov, the No. 15 seed, needed just over two hours to defeat wild card and World No. 231 Christopher O’Connell 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3. The Bulgarian’s best result at the major came in 2014 when he advanced to the quarter-finals (l. to Nadal).
If Andrey Rublev was looking for a little extra adrenaline ahead of his Australian Open second-round clash with Andy Murray, the Russian #NextGenATP star found some on Tuesday in Melbourne with some sparring at Fight Club boxing gym.
The 19-year-old Rublev defeated Yen-Hsun Lu on Monday at Melbourne Park to record his first Grand Slam main draw victory. Ahead of his clash with World No. 1 Murray, the right-hander, whose father is a former boxer, engaged in a sparring session with the trainer at Fight Club.
Looking ahead to the clash with Murray, which is scheduled for the Rod Laver Arena evening session on Wednesday, Rublev said, "I’m so excited, I have nothing to lose. He’s the best tennis player at the moment. So I will just try to take a great experience from this, from tomorrow's match and we’ll see."
Fifteen-all is a leaking ship. The boat is still afloat, still steaming along in the right direction, but it is definitely taking on a little water that the server probably does not know about.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings shows a modest decline in the win percentage for the server from the start of the game at love-all to two points later at 15/15.
Top 10 Average Win Percentage
The Top 10 average a three percentage-point drop from 0/0 to 15/15, as the finish line for the game moves from four points away, to just three points away.
Top 10 Hold Percentage At 0/0 And 15/15 During The 2016 SeasonNo. Player 0/0 15/15 Difference 1 Andy Murray 85% 84% -1 2 Novak Djokovic 86% 83% -3 3 Milos Raonic 91% 88% -3 4 Stan Wawrinka 86% 82% -4 5 Kei Nishikori 83% 79% -4 6 Gael Monfils 83% 80% -3 7 Marin Cilic 87% 84% -3 8 Dominic Thiem 83% 79% -4 9 Rafael Nadal 81% 79% -2 10 Tomas Berdych 85% 86% +1 - AVERAGE 85% 82% -3
The three players in the Top 10 who had the biggest winning percentage drop between 0/0 and 15/15 were Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem, all of whom saw their winning percentage fall four percentage points. There were four players right at the average decline of three percentage points, including Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Marin Cilic.
Rafael Nadal's winning percentage dropped only two percentage points, while World No. 1 Andy Murray dropped only one percentage point. The outlier in the Top 10 was Tomas Berdych, who actually rose one percentage point, from 85 per cent to 86 per cent. In 2015, Berdych dropped like the rest of the Top 10, but it was only one percentage point, from 85 per cent to 84 per cent.
The key dynamic here is the closer proximity to the finish line. It’s still the same server, and the score is still even, but the end of the game has moved 25 per cent closer (from four points to three points), and that slightly favours the returner.
Rafael Nadal did his best to erase the memory of his 2016 first-round loss in Melbourne on Tuesday, dominating Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in just over two hours in Rod Laver Arena. The Spaniard landed 70 per cent of his first serves and ripped 39 winners against the 33-year-old Mayer, who was playing at Melbourne Park for the first time in three years.
“I think I played solid match,” said Nadal. “It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love of the people. That is something that is very special for me. I am happy the way I am playing. I had [some] good weeks of practise… I always expect difficult matches. Today was not an easy match.”
Nadal fell to countryman Fernando Verdasco a year ago, the victim of an all-out attack from his opponent, who hit 90 winners in the win. But Tuesday's match was never in question for the 30-year-old Mallorca native. Nadal earned a break in each set, including at 4-4 in the third set, and converted his first match point with a forehand winner.
Sixth seed Gael Monfils, competing at the 40th Grand Slam championship of his career, returned to competitive tennis with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jiri Vesely for a place in the second round. It was his first tour-level win since October 2016 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Commit to turning it around. Or stop playing.
Five years ago, a teenage Harrison had broken into the Top 50 and was being talked about as the United States’ next Grand Slam champion. But it didn’t quite happen for the Texas native. Not helped by injuries, his ranking fell back outside the Top 100 and the occasional good moments were weighed down by increasing low spells.
Still only 24 years of age, it feels like Harrison has already endured a career full of highs and lows.
“It was tough at times,” said Harrison after his first-round win over Nicolas Mahut at Melbourne Park. “You have some injuries that affect your confidence. You get out there and you're not playing that well and that leads to more bad results. Then you start searching for answers and you start to lose that security in your own ability. One bad thing leads to another and you find that you don’t recognise yourself on the court.
“For me it was a chain of what came first. The chicken or the egg? The bad result or the bad attitude? What was going on? I finally reached a point of rock bottom. You either have to commit to turning it around or you don't even play anymore. At that point I wasn't recognising myself out there.
“So I made that commitment with the people around me, who still had belief in me. I think it was important to notice who was still believing in me in the worst moment and trust those people.
“[After Wimbledon] I felt like I'd had the occasional good result here and there, but the consistency hadn't been there and I was just looking forward to getting home and being around my family. I didn't really have a date for when I wanted to hit a tennis ball again after that. It took me a little bit of time to get back out there. But eventually I did and I felt like once I did, I finally let go of some of that negative emotion. I just got out there and was focusing on enjoying playing again.”
With the enjoyment came success. Harrison qualified for nine tour-level events in 2016, including in Washington and Toronto, where he scored two third-round appearances. Closing on a return to the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Harrison put himself firmly back on the radar at the US Open. As a qualifier he shocked World No. 6 Milos Raonic en route to the third round. It was an extra special week for the Harrison family, with Ryan’s younger brother, Christian, also qualifying.
“I don't think my ability ever left,” said Ryan Harrison. “People talk about me having the potential to win majors and having that sort of ability. That doesn't just go away. You still have ability in you, it's just a matter of putting yourself in the right positions to let that come out and excel.
“So for me, once the mind was better, the good results could follow. With the way tennis is set up, if you're not ranked high enough to be seeded, you have to fight some tough opponents early on in tournaments. I was able to win one or two of those matches and get a little bit of an opening in some draws and capitalise on it. That allowed me to continue to build confidence and here we are.
“I'm just happy, honestly,” continued Harrison, who is focused on purely enjoying the moment and not setting rankings goals. “Things are good. I'm getting married, playing a high level. I can see the daylight again of where I want to be with my tennis career and moving in the right direction. Happiness and confidence leads to better things happening and I think that that's where I'm at. A good level is going to put me in a good position to win and if I win, my ranking will find itself where it does.”
”It's obviously tough to have necessarily a solid performance all the way through, but I did what I needed to,” said Raonic. “I took care of my serve. I broke quite early in all the sets. I just dropped off a little bit where I faced a few sort of dangers on my service games in the beginning of the third, end of the second. I returned pretty solid when I had to. I stepped up, and I played well.”
The third-seeded Raonic continued his attacking style, which has gained new emphasis under coach Richard Krajicek. Raonic won 73 per cent of his net points (19/26). More importantly, he erased all three break points faced during the one-hour and 32-minute win.
Raonic reached the semi-finals in Melbourne a year ago and led runner-up Andy Murray two sets to one before losing in five sets. The 26-year-old Raonic will next meet Gilles Muller, who won his first ATP World Tour title on Saturday at the Apia International Sydney (d. Evans), after he hit 30 aces to defeat #NextGenATP Taylor Fritz 7-6(8), 7-6(5), 6-3.
Eighth seed Dominic Thiem converted five of his 19 break point opportunities to overcome Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 54 minutes. He now challenges Jordan Thompson, who fought back from an 0-2 sets deficit to beat World No. 37 and last week’s ASB Classic runner-up Joao Sousa 6-7(2), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
Benoit Paire lead former World No. 2 Tommy Haas 7-6(2), 6-4, when his German opponent – a three-time semi-finalist at Melbourne Park – retired due to fatigue. Haas, 38, has undergone 15 surgeries in a 20-year professional career, which includes being the 2004 and 2012 ATP World Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year awards recipient. Paire advanced to play Fabio Fognini, a straight sets victor over No. 28 seed Feliciano Lopez.
David Goffin, the No. 11 seed, battled to knock out big-serving qualifier Reilly Opelka, who was making his Grand Slam championship debut, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in just under three hours. He’ll next play another qualifier, 38-year-old Radek Stepanek, in the second round.
Watch highlights of Stan Wawrinka surviving a five-set opener against Martin Klizan at the 2017 Australian Open. Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Getty Images photo.
Zverev fell behind a break in the fourth set and shattered his racquet in frustration. But the 19-year-old German won 12 of the final 15 games to improve his five-set record to 3-2 with the two-hour and 54-minute victory.
The right-hander had lost in the first round in Melbourne last year, his only prior appearance at Melbourne Park. Zverev, the 24th seed, will next meet fellow #NextGenATP player Frances Tiafoe, who earned his first Grand Slam win by beating Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2. The 18-year-old American had been 0-3 in Grand Slam matches. Tiafoe, who qualified for the Australian Open, has now won four consecutive matches in Melbourne. This will be his first FedEx ATP Head2Head contest against Zverev.
Zverev and Tiafoe are two of the top contenders for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 7-11 November in Milan, Italy. The top seven players 21 and under will compete at the event. The eighth player will be determined by wild card. Fans can follow the Emirates ATP Race To Milan all season long. Click here to view the current standings.
Other #NextGenATP Americans were not as fortunate as Tiafoe on Tuesday. Twenty-year-old Jared Donaldson was leading two sets to zero against Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva but lost 3-6, 0-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to the Brazilian. Both players won exactly 131 points in the first-round contest.
Michael Mmoh, playing in only his second Grand Slam singles contest, fell to 25th seed Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 50 minutes. Simon erased four of five break points and broke 19-year-old Mmoh six times.
But what brings Federer to his feet? Musicals.
“I'm always one of the first guys to give standing ovations because I think it's really important because these guys do amazing,” Federer said Monday night in Melbourne after his first-round win at the Australian Open. “The amount of memorising they have to do, I find that mind-blowing. I'm not very good at remembering stuff like that.”
But Roger certainly proved he’s remembered his way around the tennis court. The four-time champion, who had been sidelined due to a knee injury, opened his campaign at the Australian Open with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Jurgen Melzer. After the victory, he had musicals on his mind.
“I went to see ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ in Perth [and] I met the cast afterwards. I really enjoyed that,” he said. “I saw ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Finding Neverland’ in New York. I liked both of those. They were completely different. ‘Finding Neverland’ was super emotional. We were all crying, all seven people that were there – my daughters, my wife, my mom, everybody. It was a lot of fun.
"I saw ‘Elephant Man’ with Bradley Cooper in London. I just admire that kind of performance. It's life.”
The 35-year-old’s life in the Melbourne draw continues when he faces American #NextGenATP player Noah Rubin in the second round. No word on whether or not Federer will take in a musical in Melbourne before then.
Roger Federer has been named the world's most marketable sports person in 2016, according to researchers at the London School of Marketing. The Swiss superstar earned nearly £50 million ($60.7m) in sponsorships and endorsements, despite missing six months of last season and undergoing knee surgery in March 2016.
Jacques de Cock, faculty member at London School of Marketing said, "Despite Roger Federer's slow year in terms of success in his sport, his successful endorsement deals show that personal characteristics can also be an important part of long-lasting sponsorships."
Federer is listed ahead of NBA basketball player Lebron James (£44.3m/$53.8m) and golfers Phil Mickelson (£41m, $50.2m) and Tiger Woods (£36.9m, $44.8m). Tennis players Novak Djokovic (£27.9m, $33.8m) and Rafael Nadal (£26.2m,$31.8m) are also in the Top 10.
World's Top 10 Marketable Sports Stars (Source: London School of Marketing)
1) Roger Federer (tennis) - £49.2m
Federer, who had been sidelined due to a knee injury, opened his campaign over former junior rival and fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and five minutes.
“I thought my serve was on and off in the beginning, which surprised me a little bit, because in practise it's been going pretty well,” said Federer. “I was feeling nervous once the match actually started. I was actually fine all day, warming up, in the warm-up five minutes with Jurgen. I felt fine. Then I hit four frames in a row. It was like, ‘Whew, it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be.
“I'm happy I was made to work today. Actually at the end I'm quite happy how I ended, which is most important… It was great to be out there. I really enjoyed myself, even though it wasn't so simple.”
He goes on to face World No. 200 Noah Rubin, appearing in his third Grand Slam championship, who edged past fellow American Bjorn Fratangelo 6-7(4), 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in three hours and eight minutes.
Four-time former champion Federer recovered from a 2-4 deficit in the first set and, at one stage, won 13 points in a row. Qualifier Melzer won five games in a row from a 1-3 deficit in the second set, but No. 17 seed Federer was in total control the remainder of the pair’s fifth meeting. The Swiss star hit 46 winners, including 19 aces.
It is Federer’s first appearance outside the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at Melbourne Park since 2002 when he ranked No. 12 and his No. 17 seeding is his lowest at a Grand Slam championship since coming in unseeded at 2001 Roland Garros. Pete Sampras was the No. 17 seed when he won his final event, the 2002 US Open.
The fourth seed and 2014 titlist drew upon his big-match experience to come back from a break deficit in the deciding set to edge Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in three hours and 24 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.
”It was tough one, for sure,” said Wawrinka. “But I’m really happy to get through in five sets. It wasn't my best tennis today, but I was fighting, trying to stay in the game. I think he was playing well. He didn't give me too much rhythm. He made me play not my best tennis. I'm happy to get through, that's the most important thing.”
Wawrinka maintained his record of never having lost in the first round at Melbourne Park after he struck 21 aces past Klizan, who finished with a forehand error to see his losing streak extend to 10 matches. It was their first meeting for almost seven years (2010 Casablanca).
Nick Kyrgios, the No. 14 seed, committed only 17 unforced errors as he cruised past Gastao Elias 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in 84 minutes for a place in the second round for the fourth straight year. He next faces veteran Andreas Seppi. “I think I reserved a lot of energy,” said Kyrgios, who experienced sinus problems. “I was actually really impressed with the way I served, the way I returned.”.
Steve Darcis withstood 19 aces from the racquet of Sam Groth in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory. The Belgian, who has risen nine spots to No. 71 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, goes on to face Diego Schwartzman, who beat his fellow South American, No. 22 seed Pablo Cuevas, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in 82 minutes.
After hitting rock bottom at Wimbledon last year, Ryan Harrison has re-discovered his confidence and happiness on a tennis court. The American was a first-round winner on Monday at the Australian Open. Photo: Getty Images
Watch highlights of Roger Federer returning to tour-level action against Jurgen Melzer at the 2017 Australian Open. Getty Images photo. Video Courtesy: Tennis Australia.
Australian 17-year-old Alex De Minaur reacts after saving match point in a five-set win over Gerald Melzer in his Melbourne Park main draw debut. Photo Getty Images
American #NextGenATP star Michael Mmoh will have strong local support from his Aussie family when he takes on Gilles Simon in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.