At 41, Ivo Karlovic Ages Like Fine Wine And Still Has Game

Ivo Karlovic (photo: @DelrayBeachOpen/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, January 9, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Ivo Karlovic seems ageless at first glance, but he ages like a fine wine. At 41, Karlovic still has game and he proved it. On Friday night, the native of Zagreb, Croatia, who maintains a residence in nearby Miami, fired 27 service aces en route to a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over No. 7 seed Pablo Andújar at the Delray Beach Open by much to the delight of the small, socially-distanced and masked crowd at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Club.

The 148th-ranked Karlovic, who won the 2015 Delray Beach title, set up his second match point with the 13,646th ace of his career and won on the next point to advance to the second round against 293rd-ranked qualifier Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador, who earlier defeated 251st-ranked American wild card Noah Rubin 7-6 (1), 6-3.

Karlovic broke his own record as the oldest competitor in an ATP Tour match since Thomas Muster, 44, at Vienna in 2011. By winning, the 6-foot-11-inch Croatian became the oldest match winner on the ATP Tour since Jimmy Connors won at Halle in 1995 at age 42.

The 2015 Delray Beach Open champion won 81 percent (51 of 63) of his first-serve points, saved two of four break points he faced and converted three break point chances against the 34-year-old Andújar. He outpointed Andújar 104-97. Karlovic played in just three ATP Tour main draw matches last year, in Melbourne, New York and Pune, with his only win coming in the first round of the Australian Open.

“Almost every match that I win, now at my age, it [makes] history,” Karlovic bantered in his on-court interview.

In Friday afternoon’s featured match, No. 74 Cameron Norrie of Great Britain dropped just three games against 299th-ranked wild card JC Aragone of the United States, saving all three break points he faced en route to a 6-2, 6-1 win. It sets up an all-lefty match-up against France’s No. 34 Adrian Mannarino in the second round.

“I knew it would be tricky playing as the favorite and in these conditions,” Norrie said after his victory. “I served really well today, I really relied on that and I was pretty solid. I don’t think I missed too many balls. I didn’t really go for much, but I was able to relax a bit towards the end and play more aggressive. It’s playing pretty lively out here, so I’m just glad to get the win. It was not easy.”

Also, American qualifier Christian Harrison, ranked 789th, advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina as did another American, Bjorn Fratangelo, who beat Kevin King of the United States, 6-2, 6-2. Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan earned his first win of the season against Andrej Martin of Slovakia, 6-4, 6-4.

Meanwhile, the evening came to a close as 2018 Delray Beach Open champion Frances Tiafoe, seeded eighth, defeated 327th-ranked American qualifier Donald Young, a 2015 Delray Beach finalist, 6-3, 6-4, in one hour and 17 minutes. Young was seeking his first ATP Tour win since 2018 in Washington, D.C. , but will have to wait a little longer after his sixth double fault of the match put an abrupt halt to it.

Noteworthy: Friday was a day for ex-U.S. college players in action. Among them were JC Aragone (University of Virginia), Kevin King (Georgia Tech), Cameron Norrie (Texas Christian), Roberto Quiroz (University of Southern California) and Noah Rubin (Wake Forest).

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