Power and the glory for Karlovic
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:37
Tsonga, who lost 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (5/7) 7-5 7-6 (7/5) on Court One, was considered a dark horse for the title because of his power and pedigree on grass.
But he cut a frustrated figure as he struggled to make any impression on the Karlovic serve. The 6ft 10in 22nd seed, who reached the fourth round in 2004, racked up 46 aces and a phenomenal first-serve percentage of 77% as he set up a fourth-round meeting with seventh seed Fernando Verdasco.
The Croatian notched the first mini-break of the first set tie-break when Tsonga flashed a forehand wide, and that set up Karlovic to take the set with another service winner.
Another tie-break soon followed in the second and this time Tsonga, serving at 6-5, sent an ace onto the centre line to level matters at one set all.
The third set was largely similar to the first two, although if anything the serve was even more dominant – at least for the first nine games. Karlovic got to 15-30 in the 10th but missed an attempted pass and the chance was gone.
That chink of light gave hope to the 30-year-old, though, and he went one better in Tsonga’s next service game when a brilliant forehand return took him to 15-40.
Tsonga looked to have escaped with a lucky net cord but Karlovic reacted well and a deft drop volley proved a winner as the Croatian took the set 7-5 to move to within one of the fourth round.
With no breaks of serve in the fourth set, a third tie-break inevitably followed. Karlovic took the initiative with the first mini-break when Tsonga fed him a comfortable put-away. But a poor volley from the Croatian following in his own serve restored the status quo.
The 22nd seed moved ahead again when Tsonga could not deal with the power of a forehand return, and he clinched the victory on his own serve – predictably with an ace, his 102nd of the tournament so far.