Ageless Karlovic Books Bublik Battle In Newport
Former champion Ivo Karlovic rallied to take down 24-year-old Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 and score his 17th win at the Hall of Fame Open on Tuesday afternoon.
The 42-year-old Croatian, who lifted the Newport trophy here in 2016 and reached the 2015 final, fired 24 aces and saved all six of the break points he faced en route to victory. The 6’11” right-hander won 87 per cent (47/54) of points behind his booming first serve.
“It was really difficult after losing that tie-break, but after that I just continued. I was a little bit more aggressive and it paid off at the end,” Karlovic said in an on-court interview. “It’s always nice to be here in Newport, especially this week as there is no more ‘bubble’ and everything is open again. That is really, really nice.”
Karlovic will next face top seed Alexander Bublik for the first time, as he bids to become oldest ATP Tour quarter-finalist since Jimmy Connors, 42, in Halle in 1995.
Fifth seed Tennys Sandgren also made his way into the second round after edging past Joao Sousa 6-4, 7-6(3). The American reeled off five games in a row in the opening set, and dominated the tie-break to advance after an hour and a half. He will be joined by countryman Jack Sock, who came back from a set down to defeat Alex Bolt 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in his first tour-level main-draw match since last year's Roland Garros. Sock set up a clash with third seed Yoshihito Nishioka.
Sandgren will next face Chinese Taipei's Jason Jung, who defeated qualifier Brayden Schnur in a three-hour and 17-minute epic. In a match with 29 break points on offer, it was Jung who capitalised on his opportunities to break Schnur five times and claim a tightly contested third-set tie-break for a 7-5, 6-7(1), 7-6(4) victory.
Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner booked a meeting with big-serving Kevin Anderson, the eighth seed, after defeating Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-4, 6-4.
Did You Know?
At 42 years old, Karlovic is the oldest player to compete in an ATP Tour match since Thomas Muster, 44, in 2011 in Vienna (l. to Dominic Thiem in R1).