Karlovic wins in three-tiebreaker upset
Karlovic loss may have helped Hewitt
By Linda Pearce
January 20, 2004
Ivo Karlovic made his Australian Open debut yesterday, in the backblocks of court 13, with a three-tiebreaker upset of
21st seed Mardy Fish. Karlovic has ridden his whopping serve to No. 74 in the world, but remains, at least in these parts,
The Nobody Who Beat Lleyton Hewitt At Wimbledon.
And yet maybe, in a perverse way, the nobody did the somebody a favour, for last year's stunning first-round result at the
All England club may prove to be profound for both players involved. Karlovic, for the kick-start it provided for a career
in its infancy; Hewitt for the jolt it gave to his career that, right then, had stalled like never before.
"From the moment he lost that match at Wimbledon, I think he and Roger (Rasheed) have worked really well together and
Lleyton was really ready to play Davis Cup on both occasions after that," said Davis Cup coach Wally Masur. "I think that
he was perfectly prepared for those events and I think he's similarly prepared for this."
Ideally prepared, is the consensus - an opinion shared by Hewitt, who starts his eighth Australian Open today against
American qualifier Cecil Mamiit.
The 15th seed is understandably content with his unbeaten Perth-Sydney lead-in run, and has a 2-0 record against Mamiit,
the world No. 195.
"I just think he's got that nice combination of winning matches under his belt, but yet having had a good base of hard
work, like an off-season, which he just hasn't had the opportunities to do probably in the last two to three years," Masur
said. "Look, I don't want to get carried away, but he's fit, he's fresh, he's hitting the ball great, and he's just won a
tournament. Just sounds like a good mix, doesn't it?
"Lleyton had had an incredible two years; he just hadn't stopped. He had no off-season, he won the Masters two years
running, he was in Davis Cup finals for three years, he was just on such a merry-go-round, and it was almost like he
needed something to cause him to get off, and I think that came to a bit of a head there at Wimbledon.
"And it's a pretty gutsy move to say, 'I'm not playing the rest of the year, I'm focusing on this nd that, I'm going to
train, I'm going to prepare my game.'
"So you look at that Wimbledon loss, and now you look at where he is now, and it's the six months that he's put in that
has gotten him to this point. If I was Roger Rasheed I'd be pretty bloody happy with where Lleyton is right now."
The highest Australian seed, Mark Philippoussis, is also entering his home grand slam buoyed by the Davis Cup success
celebrated at Rod Laver Arena just seven weeks ago.
Tonight, the 2003 Wimbledon finalist meets 2002 Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, the Swede whose comeback from a
serious knee injury is still in its infancy.
Defending champion Andre Agassi started his 2004 campaign convincingly with a facile win over Todd Larkham under the
lights on the Rod Laver Arena. Agassi, who has not lost a match in Mebourne since 1999, dominated against the local favourite.
The Las Vegan was into his stride almost immediately and cruised to the first set 6-1 in front of an engrossed Australian
crowd. Larkham battled back bravely in the next, but Agassi always looked as though he could go through the gears at any time and took the second set in just 34 minutes. 'Double A' was broken in the third as Larkham threatened a fightback, but was eventually put to bed as Agassi wrapped up the match 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.Earlier world number one Andy Roddick survived a tough first-round clash at the Australian Open - but for last year's finalist Rainer Schuettler it was another day to forget.
Roddick beat Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets but Schuettler, who has not won a match in 2004, surrendered a
two-set lead to Swedish teenager Robin Soderling, going down 4-6 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 in the Rod Laver Arena. Schuettler was the surprise finalist last year, beating Roddick in the semi-finals before losing to Andre Agassi, but has
been in poor form so far this season."I've had a pretty tough three weeks now. I started in Doha, Sydney and now here. I didn't win a match," said the sixth seed."Today I was two sets up and had break point at 5-5. I played the wrong shot. It's very disappointing of course."I had great memories from last year and there was a bit of pressure, but that is not the reason why I didn't win." Soderling will play Nicolas Escude in the second round after the Frenchman beat Hyung Taik-Lee 6-3 7-6 (7/5) 6-2.
Roddick had been wary of Gonzalez, one of the best unseeded players in the draw, and in the past there has been little to
choose between them.After two previous meetings their record stood at one win apiece, both in three tie-breaks.
On Monday, though, Roddick forced the upper hand in a tight encounter as Gonzalez became increasingly frustrated with some
crucial line-calls before going down 6-2 7-5 7-6 (7/4).
"I don't think it was a good draw for either one of us," said Roddick.
"I knew I had to play well. I got lucky there in the third set."
Three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten was pushed the distance, but the Brazilian held on for a dramatic 5-7 6-0
6-1 2-6 8-6 victory over a resilient John van Lottum.
Kuerten, who has never been further than the second round at Melbourne Park, will play Croatian Ivan Ljubicic.
Frenchman Arnaud Clement, seeded 30, also lost a two-set lead, going down to Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 4-6
Of the other seeds, Vince Spadea (29) lost in four sets to Thomas Enqvist, Spain's Tommy Robredo (20) was beaten by
Argentine Gaston Gaudio 6-3 6-2 7-6 (8/6) and crowd favourite Younes El Aynaoui (18) was forced to retire.
His participation was always in doubt after he withdrew from the Commonwealth Bank International last week with a foot
injury that has caused him concern for some time.
The Moroccan was trailing Gala Blanco of Spain 4-1 when he retired.
American Taylor Dent (27) also benefited from a withdrawal when Fernando Verdasco pulled up when trailing 6-2 6-1 2-1.
Dent will meet Juan Ignacio Chela in the second round after the Argentinian overcame Irakli Labadze 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-3.
Carlos Moya, as was widely expected, pulled out of his first round match against James Blake with the ankle injury
suffered in the adidas International final against Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday.
"I tried to hit this morning. It was hurting a little bit. Then I came here, I got some treatment, tried again and then I
realised that it was not possible for me to play," he said.
"It has improved so much. Yesterday I couldn't even walk. Today I was running. I was still in pain and maybe one more day
it would have been perfect."
Thai sensation Paradorn Srichaphan (13) stormed into the second round with a 7-5 6-4 6-0 thumping of Jose Acasuso of
Argentina in 94 minutes while Sjeng Schalken (16) beat Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark 7-5 6-3 6-1.
American Robby Ginepri, the 32nd seed, beat Peruvian Luis Horna 7-5 6-3 6-3 and will play Australian 18-year-old Chris
Guccione, while American Mardy Fish (21) lost in three tie-breaks to Ivo Karlovic.
The Croatian will face veteran Todd Martin who came from two sets down to beat Frenchman Anthony Dupuis in a marathon
encounter 4-6 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (7/4) 6-3.