Karlovic Fires Into Australian Open Record Books With Zeballos Win
Record broken for longest match in term of games in Melbourne
The 6’11” Croatian fought back from an 0-2 sets deficit to beat Horacio Zeballos 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in five hours and 14 minutes on Tuesday night for a place in the second round. The match fell 38 minutes short of Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final, which lasted five hours and 53 minutes.
The Karlovic-Zeballos match lasted 84 games breaking the Australian Open record since the introduction of the tie-break in 1972, surpassing Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui's 2003 classic of 83 games – including a 21-19 fifth set.
“This match is what I will, after my career, remember,” said Karlovic. “If it was easy match or I lost easily, I wouldn't remember it. But this one I will definitely remember forever.
The 37-year-old Karlovic also fired down 75 aces, another Australian Open record – bettering Joachim Johansson’s 51 aces in 2005. It was just three aces shy of equalling Karlovic’s record 78 aces versus fellow veteran Radek Stepanek in the 2009 Davis Cup semi-finals.
One chance for each player went begging in the deciding set that lasted two hours and 41 minutes, before No. 20 seed Karlovic broke Zeballos’ serve for just the fourth time to end the encounter, which had begun mid-afternoon in 37°C (98.6F) heat. It was the longest fifth set in Australian Open history.
“My arm is good, but my knee, my back a little bit, is not so good,” said Karlovic. “I was just trying to hang in there, just point by point… [As the fifth set wore on], actually I was thinking about that other match: [John] Isner versus [Nicolas] Mahut (at 2010 Wimbledon, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set). I was hoping, a little bit, it could go that long so I could also have that record.”
Karlovic holds the US Open aces match record, which he set in a grueling five-set win over Yen-Hsun Lu in August 2016. Karlovic fired 61 aces – including 22 in the second set - to eclipse the previous US Open record of 49 set by Richard Krajicek in a losing effort to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1999. Read Report
The Croatian has now struck 11,689 aces in tour-level matches over the course of his 17-year professional career. Isner struck 1,159 aces to Karlovic's 1,131 aces in 2016, but the Croatian led the ATP World Tour circuit in 2015 with 1,447 aces (Isner - 1,260).
The ATP World Tour started to compile career ace records in 1991. They include aces served in main draw ATP World Tour and Grand Slam matches, and at the Olympic Games from 2008 onwards. Totals do not include aces served in Davis Cup.
Ivo Karlovic's Ace Count By Year (Since 2001):
|Year||Aces||Matches||Aces Per Match|