Saturday, 9 January 2021

Croatian Tennis Veteran Ivo Karlovic Becomes Oldest Player to Win ATP Match Since Connors in '95

January 9, 2021 - Croatian tennis veteran Ivo Karlovic has become the oldest player to win an ATP match since Jimmy Connors in '95. 

24 Sata reports that 41-year-old Croatian tennis player Ivo Karlovic (ATP - 148) won his first game of the new season by defeating Spanish tennis player Pablo Andujar (ATP - 59) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the 1st round match of the ATP tournament in Delray Beach, USA. It took Karlovic two hours and 16 minutes of play to claim the victory. 

It was their second match, and Karlovic reached his first victory by firing 27 aces, and winning three of nine breakpoints, one in each set. 

In the second round, Karlovic will face 28-year-old Ecuadorian Roberto Quiroz (ATP - 293), who advanced to the tournament through qualifications. In the 1st round, he was better than American player Noah Rubin (ATP - 251) 7-6 (1), 6-3.

Karlovic had a decisive break in the eighth game of the first set and realized the third set point in the next. Andujar took a 2-0 lead in the second, but the Croatian veteran immediately came back. The 34-year-old Spaniard managed to take the match to the third set with a new break point in the 12th game.

With a break point in the fifth game of the decisive set, Karlovic gained an advantage that he kept until the tenth game in which he used his second match point. 

Ivo Karlovic won the title at this tournament in 2015, defeating American Donald Young in the final, and five years earlier, he was defeated in the final by Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

This is the 23rd season of Ivo’s career, and at its opening, he became the oldest player with an ATP tour win since Jimmy Connors in 1995. 

"It's true almost every match that I win, now at my age, it is history,” Karlovic said after the victory. 

Karlovic will play in the round of 16 on Sunday against Roberto Quiroz. 

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Sunday, 18 October 2020

Borna Coric in Second Straight St. Petersburg Final, this Time Against Rublev

October 18, 2020 - Croatia's best tennis player, Borna Coric, advanced to the final of the ATP tournament in St. Petersburg after defeating Canadian Milos Raonic 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinal after an hour and 56 minutes of play.

Jutarnji List reports that this was the second meeting between Coric and Raonic in which Coric retaliated against the Canadian for losing in Delray Beach three years ago.

With the victory against Raonic, Coric repeated last year's result in St. Petersburg, when he also reached the final. However, last year, Russian Danil Medvedev was more successful. On Sunday, Coric will also play against a Russian opponent for the title, but it will be Andrey Rublev.

Coric's appearance in Sunday's final will be his seventh final match on the ATP Tour. So far, he has won two titles, Marrakesh 2017 and Halle 2018, while his last appearance in the final was just last year in St. Petersburg in September.

Coric lost the first set very quickly, and the key was the second game, which lasted more than 10 minutes. Coric saved three breaks, each with an excellent serve, but on the fourth, he made a double fault. Raonic then quickly reached a 5-0 lead, and thus the set.

However, in the second set, the situation changed completely. Coric started to return Raonic's powerful serve much better, and already with a 1-0 lead, he reached three breakpoints. He used the third for 2-0, which was Raonic's first lost service game in the tournament. Coric did not stop there; with an advantage of 3-0 and three excellent winners, he reached an advantage of 15-40 on the opponent's serve. Raonic missed one backhand, and Coric reached an unattainable 4-0.

At the beginning of the third set, Coric managed to save three breaks in his first service game in that set. After overcoming a small crisis, he played much better again and managed the 3-2 advantage. By the end of the match, Coric held his serve firmly for a significant victory.

"I don't know if I ever played as badly as in the first set. In the second set, I found my rhythm, played better and in the end managed to win," said Coric after the match, and then looked back at his next opponent, Rublev, against whom he's lost in all three previous duels:

"Rublev plays perhaps the best tennis of his life. I hope I will be able to play my best match on Sunday as well."

Rublev reached the final with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against another Canadian player, Denis Shapovalov. For the 22-year-old, it will be the eighth final in his career, and he has won five titles so far.

Coric and Rublev meet today at 15:30. 

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Friday, 18 October 2019

Kremlin Cup: Marin Cilic Better than Ivo Karlovic for Spot in Quarters

October 18, 2019 - Marin Cilic booked a spot in the quarterfinal of the ATP Tournament in Moscow after defeating fellow countryman Ivo Karlovic 6:1, 7:6 in the Croatian round of 16. It was their seventh encounter and the fourth victory for Cilic.

HRT writes that Karlovic and Cilic last played two years ago in the semifinal of the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, when Karlovic, who is nine years Cilic’s senior, celebrated in three sets.

This time, however, Marin Cilic was better and won after an hour and 24 minutes of play.

Cilic entered the match like a hurricane, and with two breaks, he led 5:0. Karlovic struggled to reduce the score to 5:1, and in the next game, Cilic safely served for a 1:0 lead in sets after 28 minutes of play.

In the first set, Karlovic had major problems with his strongest weapon, his serve. He achieved only one ace service with a modest first-serve percentage of 39 percent.

In the second set, we saw a much closer fight. 

Cilic had two break points in the first game, but the Croatian veteran saved both. Karlovic’s big opportunity came in the eighth game, when he had two consecutive and three total break opportunities, but he did not use any.

The set was eventually decided in the thirteenth game. Cilic took the lead with 4:2, Karlovic tied it at 5:5, but Marin then won two games in a row for the victory. With this victory, Cilic also booked his 500th match win.

Recall, Karlovic defeated Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the first round 6:4, 6:7 (5), 7:6 (6), while Cilic, as the third-seed in the Kremlin Cup, was free. Cilic now awaits Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the quarterfinal, who beat Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6:3, 6:4 in the 2nd round match.

Cilic and Chardy have played five times so far, with Cilic leading 3:2 in wins. They last played two years ago in Monte Carlo, where Cilic celebrated 6:3, 6:0.

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Saturday, 12 October 2019

Shanghai Masters: Mate Pavic Books First Doubles Final with Bruno Soares

October 12, 2019 - Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares will play in their first joint final on Sunday! 

Namely, the Croatian-Brazilian duo advanced to the final of the ATP Masters 1000 Series tournament in Shanghai (Shanghai Masters) after defeating British pair Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski - 7:5, 6:4. 

In a match that saw as many as eight breaks, Pavic and Soares (who achieved six aces and a first-serve percentage of 68 percent) took the serve from their opponents on five occasions. In the final, Pavic and Soares await the second-seeded Polish-Brazilian team Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, who are looking to defend their title at the tournament. 

Recall, after six consecutive wins (and the title in Beijing), Ivan Dodig and his Slovakian partner Filip Polasek lost the Shanghai quarter-final match to Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6:4, 7:6 (2). Kubot and Melo thus got revenge on Dodig and Polasek after losing to them in the Beijing final.

In the first set, Dodig and Polasek lost their serve at 3-3. However, they had the chance to take the match into the third set, but after missing two set points at 6-5 and losing the tie-break, the victory went to Kubot and Melo after an hour and 40 minutes of play. 

Recall, after Marin Cilic dropped out of the first round of the Shanghai Masters, Borna Coric, too, failed to make it past the first round. Last year's finalist was stopped by Russian Andrej Rublyov (33rd in the ATP ranking) - 6:4, 7:6 (4).

Donna Vekic failed to reach the quarter-final of the WTA Tournament in Linz, Austria, which boasts a prize fund of €250,000. The Osijek player, who was the fourth seed of the tournament, was defeated by French player Kristina Mladenovic (46th in the WTA ranking) in the second round - 3:6, 6:1, 6:2.

It was their fifth match and the third win for Mladenovic, who tasted revenge against Donna after losing to the Croatian in their two meetings this year - in the 1st round of the Australian Open and the quarter-final of the WTA tournament in Nottingham.

Source: HTS

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Friday, 20 September 2019

St. Petersburg Open: Borna Coric Advances to Semi-final

September 20, 2019 - Not a bad day for Croatian tennis players after Borna Coric and doubles team Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor advance to the semifinal of the St. Petersburg Open in Russia.

HTS reports that Borna Coric is in the semifinal of the ATP tournament in St. Petersburg! Croatia’s best tennis player achieved another turnaround and celebrated in three sets, this time in action against Norwegian player Casper Ruud, 60th on the ATP ranking - 3:6, 7:5, 6:3.

Ruud was up by a set and had a 3-2 lead in the quarter-final, with the serve in the second set, but the Zagreb native once again managed to find a way to victory.

Coric took the second set after he broke his opponent in the 6th and 12th games. The sixth game of the third set was crucial for Coric when he took away Ruud’s serve for the third time in the match. Borna managed seven aces during the match and achieved a first-serve percentage of 60 percent. 

This success has moved Coric up one position on the ATP ranking, making him the current 14th best tennis player in the world. To reach the final, Coric will play against the winner of the match between Kukuskin - Sousa. 

Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor, the first-seed in St. Petersburg this week, also won a spot in the semifinal on Thursday. In the first round, the Croatian duo was better than Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis and Serbian Janko Tipsarevic (6:3, 6:4), and topped American Nicholas Monroe and Belarusian Andrei Vasilevski (who didn’t have a single break point in the match) in the quarterfinal - 6:4, 6:2.

Mektic and Skugor will play Igor Zelenay and Divij Sharan in the semifinal on Saturday. 

Recall, Donna Vekic lost in the round of 16 at the Japan Women's Open on Thursday against Misaki Doi. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Thursday, 5 September 2019

US Open: Donna Vekic and Ivan Dodig Eliminated

September 5, 2019 - Donna Vekic and Ivan Dodig were eliminated from the US Open on Wednesday.

HTS reports that Donna Vekic has ended her run at the US Open this year after losing to the 12th best female player in the world in the quarterfinal, Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, 7:6 (5), 6:3.

In the biggest match of her career, Donna missed a massive opportunity in the first set when, in the ninth game, she had the chance to break her opponent and at 5:4 served to be 1:0 up in sets, though she was unable to capitalize. 

Bencic returned the lost serve and later in the tie-break clinched the first set. In the second set, Vekic held on to a 3:2 lead and then lost four games in a row to end her dream of a Grand Slam semi-final. It was the fourth encounter between Vekic and Bencic, and the Swiss star’s third win. Vekic achieved four aces with a first-serve percentage of 55 percent, scored 28 winners (Bencic 20) but also managed 28 unforced errors (Bencic 21).

Taiwanese player Hao-Ching Chan and New Zealander Michael Venus (1st seed) ended Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig's stellar series at Grand Slam tournaments this year, where they’ve claimed the title of Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the mixed doubles competition. Namely, Chan and Venus eliminated Chan and Dodig in the US Open semi-final in two sets - 7:6 (3), 7:5.

Chan and Dodig started the match well, and reached a break already in the first game, but that was all they managed to do to against their rival. In game 10, Chan and Dodig lost their serve for the first time, and in the tie-break, they lost the first set. In the second set, both pairs held their serve firmly until game 11, though Dodig and Chan couldn't hold on much longer and ultimately lost the match in which they achieved 27 winners and made 26 unforced errors (Chan and Venus 16). 

Unfortunately, Croatia no longer has a representative in the US Open after Vekic and Dodig dropped out of the tournament on Wednesday. Recall, Petra Martic lost to Serena Williams, Marin Cilic to Rafael Nadal, Ivo Karlovic to Frances Tiafoe and Borna Coric pulled out due to an injury. Mate Pavic, Nikola Mektic, and Franko Skugor did not succeed in mixed and men’s doubles. 

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Monday, 19 August 2019

Cincinnati Masters: Dodig and Polasek Surprise Top-seeded Duo for Doubles Title!

August 19, 2019 - Croatian tennis player Ivan Dodig and Slovakian partner Filip Polasek are the new Cincinnati Masters doubles champions! 

Dodig and Polasek won the doubles competition at the Masters 1000 series ATP tournament in Cincinnati on Sunday after defeating the Colombian top-seed Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the final 4-6, 6-4, 10-6, reports HRT.

Dodig and Polasek didn't start well and lost a game on their serve in the first game, though it was also the only break they allowed the entire match. Still, that was enough for Cabal and Farah to win the first set. 

In the second set, the Croatian-Slovakian combination snagged the serve from the Colombian duo with a 5-4 lead, which automatically secured them the second set. The winner was then forced to be decided in an extended tie-break. The key to the win was the 4-0 series for Dodig and Polasek, who went from 3-3 to 7-3 and held that advantage until the end.

Dodig and Polasek had their first doubles appearance in late June in Antalya, where they reached the final and lost to Jonathan Erlich and Artem Sitak. The duo also played in the Wimbledon semi-final and was relegated in the first round of the tournament in Montreal. However, in their fourth tournament together, they reached their first trophy.

This is Dodig’s 14th doubles title in his career in his 29th final, and the third in 2019, having previously won in Montpellier and Lyon with Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin. For the 34-year-old from Medjugorje, this is the fifth trophy in the Masters 1000 series tournament, and the second in Cincinnati, where he was also the winner in 2016 with Brazilian Marcelo Melo.

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Sunday, 18 August 2019

Cincinnati Masters: Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in Doubles Final!

August 18, 2019 - Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek advance to their second ATP final together, this time at the Cincinnati Masters!

HTS reports that Croatian Davis Cup representative Ivan Dodig and Slovakian tennis player Filip Polasek have made it to the final of the Masters 1000 Series tournament in Cincinnati, where they defeated British pair Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski 6-1, 6-4 in Saturday's semi-final. 

Dodig and Polasek secured the first set after they broke their opponent in the fourth and sixth games, though in the second set they had a much harder job. 

Namely, Dodig and Polasek led 3:1, Murray and Skupski returned to bring the score to 4:3, though Dodig and Polasek ultimately secured the final after winning three games in a row. In total, Dodig and Polasek used four of the 13 break points, while Murray and Skupski used only one of three.

In the fight for their first ATP title in their second ATP final together (recall, the first was in Antalya, though they were also semifinalists in Wimbledon), they will play against the first-seed of the tournament, Colombian duo Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who beat Mate Pavić and Bruno Soares in the other semifinal round - 6:3, 6:2. Pavić and Soares did not have a single break point in the match, while there was not a single tiebreak in the match. 

Dodig and Polasek will meet Cabal and Farah in the Cincinnati final on Sunday at 6:15 pm Croatia time. 

The Cincinnati Masters was far from successful for Croatia's singles tennis players. Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Ivo Karlovicć, and Petra Martić all lost in the first round, while Donna Vekić lost in the round of 16 fight to American star Venus Williams. 

Borna Ćorić has already announced he will not participate in the next competition, the 250 series tournament in Winston-Salem.

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Saturday, 17 August 2019

Cincinnati Masters: Mate Pavić, Ivan Dodig Advance to Doubles Semi-final

August 17, 2019 - Croatian tennis players Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavić have advanced to the doubles semi-final of the Cincinnati Masters. 

HTS reports that Ivan Dodig and Filip Polašek have reached a new success at the Masters 1000 Series tournament in Cincinnati. The Croatian-Slovak duo advanced to the semi-final after defeating Polish player Lukasz Kubot and Brazilian player Marcelo Melo - 3:6, 6:4, 10:5. 

Kubot and Melo took the first set, which was followed by a turnaround. Dodig and Polašek broke their opponent in the first game of the second set to equalize, and the key to their success was the perfect start to a decisive tie-break where they reached 7:0. Kubot and Melo managed to reduce the score to 7:4, but they couldn't do any better. 

With this result, Ivan is back in the company of the top 30 in the ATP doubles ranking and currently holds the 28th position. For a place in the final, they will play against Britons Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski.

Mate Pavić joins Ivan Dodig in the semi-final round of the Cincinnati Masters after he and Brazilian partner Bruno Soares (the 6th-seed of the tournament) topped 3rd-seed South African Raven Klaasen and New Zealander Michael Venus 6:1, 6:3.

It was all over in just 53 minutes of play, with Klaasen and Venus taking the lead in the first set 1:0, then losing nine games in a row, virtually deciding the winner. Pavić and Soares did not face a single break point, won 8 service games, and managed four double faults. In the semi-final, they face off against Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

Dodig and Polašek will play in the sem-final on Saturday at 8 pm Croatian time, while Pavić and Soares will play at 10 pm.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Cincinnati Masters: Donna Vekić Moves Forward, Ćorić Out

August 14, 2019 - Not all hope is lost for Croatian tennis players in the Cincinnati Masters as Donna Vekić moves into the second round.

After a poor display on Monday, which saw Čilić, Karlović, and Martić out in the first round, Donna Vekić gave us confidence.

Donna Vekić overcame the first obstacle of the WTA tournament in Cincinnati without any major problems. The Osijek native celebrated against Czech player Katerina Siniakova, the 38th best tennis player in the world, in two sets (6:4, 6:3). Siniakova held on in both sets until 1:1, after which Donna completely controlled the result, says HTS.

Siniakova had the biggest opportunity in the first set when she went from 2:5 to 4:5 to again lose her service and the set. In the second set, the winner was clear thanks to a break in the fourth game. The Croatian tennis player totaled five aces, had a first-serve percentage of 63 percent and used four of 13 break points. 

In the second round, Donna awaits Belarusian player Victória Azárenka, the 40th best player in the world, on Wednesday at 6:30 pm Croatia time. Donna recently mastered Azárenka at the WTA tournament in San Jose.

Unfortunately, Borna Coric joins Čilić, Karlović, and Martić on their short stay in Cincinnati. After his first-round match was interrupted due to rain on Monday, 22-year-old Ćorić, who was also the 12-seed of the tournament, was surprised by the 211 cm tall American player Reilly Opelka (42nd on the ATP list). The game continued on Tuesday from the third set, and Ćorić lost 4:6, 6:3, 7:5.

Recall, the match was cut short on Monday at 4:3 for Borna in the deciding set. However, a day later, Croatia’s best male tennis player lost his serve in the 11th game, after which the American (who achieved 27 aces in the match) safely served to win. Ćorić scored six aces with a brilliant first-serve percentage of 71 percent, but used only one of 11 break points, which ultimately gave him the defeat. For comparison, Opelka used two of seven.

In the doubles competition, Mate Pavić and partner Bruno Soares will move to the round of 16. 

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