Karlović advances to second round; Martić, Dodig and Ljubičić ousted
January 17, 2012
A couple of disappointed Austrian fans watch as Ivo Karlović sweeps past Jürgen Melzer
Sixth time is a charm for Ivo Karlović as the 32-year-old finally figured out how to beat Jürgen Melzer after failing in his previous five attempts. The tallest player ever on the ATP Tour relied on his powerful serve to defeat the Austrian in straight sets in the opening round of the Australian Open 6-7(3), 5-7, 3-6.
The first set lasted 47 minutes, went back and forth, and had to be settled in a tie-break where Ivo out-muscled the 31st ranked player 7-3. Karlović finished the set with 13 aces and two double faults, while Melzer failed to serve up an ace and only managed a 72% first serve percentage. The Croatian found his rythm in the second set and broke the Austrian twice in route to a 7-5 win. Karlović managed to serve only three aces in the second set, but it was Jürgen’s three double faults and failure to register a single ace and winner that were the story of the second set.
Checkers were present for Karlović-Melzer on opening day
Melzer couldn’t get anything going in the third set as Karlović broke him three times and finished off the seeded player in straight sets. Karlović deserves credit for the win, however, Melzer was off his game. The 30-year-old finished the match with only two aces and a 65% first serve percentage. Ivo finished the match with 24 aces and will face Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq in the second round.
Ivan Ljubičić went out in the first round of the Australian Open for the sixth time in his career
The only seeded Croatian player at the Australian Open, Ivan Ljubičić, blew a 2 set lead and lost 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to Lukaš Lacko on opening day. Ljubo cruised through the first two sets as Lacko failed to break him once. The 32-year-old Indian Wells champion needed just one break in each of the first two sets as Lukas failed to break him on three chances.
In the third set, Lacko got into rhythm with his serve and broke Ljubičić twice to get himself back into the game. As the match went on, Lacko continued to punish Ljubo with his serve, doubling his aces count in each set to eliminate the Davis Cup champion. Lacko only needed one break in each of the final two sets to register 6-4 wins as Ivan failed to capitalize on two break points. Ljubičić’ career grand slam record is now 48-48 and he has lost in the first round of a grand slam 22 out of 48 times.
Ivan’s name has been circling around in the tennis news as of late. Ljubo was a former president of the players’ council and The Tennis Space sat down with him to talk about the latest player’s strike rumors that have been floating around the tennis world. The player’s are getting 11% of the tournament revenue and Ljubičić feels that the players are not getting their fair share. Here is the interview.
Petra Martić makes a backhand return to Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen
Petra Martić’ Australian Open campaign lasted a little over an hour after losing in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2 to Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen in the first round. Petra started off the match strong and raced out to a 4-0 lead. However, the 20-year-old would surrender six straight games to drop the first set. The highest ranked Croatian woman in the tournament and the only woman representing Croatia, failed to recover from that shock first set loss. Petra went on to lose the second set in only 30 minutes as Chang advanced to the second round to face Jelena Janković.
Ivan Dodig had to retire due to injury
After the second day of action, Ivo Karlović will be the lone Croatian after Ivan Dodig had to retire in the fourth set against Frederico Gil of Portugal. Dodig looked as if he was going to breeze past Gil after winning the first set 6-2. The 36th rank player in the world broke Gil three times in the first set. However, Dodig’s pre-tournament shoulder injury spread to his back and the 27-year-old lost the next two sets 6-1, 6-1 and had to retire in the fourth set with the score 4-1.
Dodig received two hours of massage therapy after the match. “I have problems with my shoulder and back. I first injured my shoulder in training, I made a break of ten days, but then the injury has spread to my neck and back. I first felt the pain in Chennai, then it hurt me more and more. My shoulder is much better, but my neck and back are worse, ” concluded the Međugorje born player. Dodig will try to be fit in time for the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, which starts on January 30th.