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Croatia's Ivo Karlovic advances to the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.

Karlovic Is Welcoming His 40s With More Records

Croatian will face India's Gunneswaran for a place in Round of 16

Ivo Karlovic is finished dodging the age milestones. When he turned 30, the Croatian felt a bit depressed.

But Karlovic, who turned the big 4-0 last week, is welcoming the new decade – and age-related accomplishments – with a wide grin.

“Obviously 40s are the new 30s so I'm young again. I like it,” the light-hearted Croatian said on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open.

Karlovic was in a jovial mood: It was the first weekend of the season's maiden ATP Masters 1000, and his name was still in the draw.

The 6'11” right-hander became the oldest Masters 1000 winner in series history (since 1990) earlier this week, and on Saturday, he reached the third round with a 6-4, 7-6(2) win against countryman Borna Coric, the 11th seed who reached the semi-finals here last year (l. to Federer).

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"Every week I am the oldest at something, so I don't know. Next week it will be the oldest ever to walk without implants in his hip," he said, smiling and referencing the recent hip replacement surgeries on Tour, including Bob Bryan's.

“Obviously it is nice that I’m still doing this, which I love, so hopefully I can continue much longer. But if not, it’s also good.”

Twelve months ago, Karlovic looked closer to retirement than to setting age records. He was almost outside the Top 100 (No. 80) and, at 39, questioned why he was still playing.

Every time he left home and his wife, Alsi, and two children – Jada, 7; Noah, 19 months – he debated walking back inside the house.

“They could not travel that much with me, and then always when I would leave it was horrible. They were sad, and I was sad, and I just didn't really want to do it that much,” he said.

Karlovic fell to No. 138 in September, but he finished 2018 at No. 100, behind an ATP Challenger Tour title in Calgary. To start 2019, he made his 19th tour-level final at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune.

Now everything is better. When you begin to win more, everything's good,” he said. “I know that I will not continue forever so I'm trying to squeeze as much as I can.”

As he reaches advanced tennis age, a thing or two has changed. For instance, his nickname with some was “Giant” but now it's “Grandpa”.

Other details about his career, however, remain unchanged. He still has aches. “Obviously there's always issues with my knee, shoulder, back, elbow. I can go on but it's all good,” he said.

And he's still hitting aces. He hit 20 more against Coric, bringing his career tally to 13,273. Only once does Karlovic remember not hitting an ace in a match – a 7-6(8), 6-1 loss to Gael Monfils at the 2008 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

The 40-year-old has other worries now, though. He wishes he had a two-handed backhand, but admits it's too late to switch. So in the final year or two or three of his record-setting career, Karlovic will try to hone a “razor blade” backhand slice.

It will be the final project in a career that's entertained – and surprised – even the one breaking the records.