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Ivo Karlovic in the finals at the SAP Open, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007, in San Jose, California
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  02/17/2007 | Sports | Unrated
Ivo wins again

Ivo Karlovic, of Croatia, reacts after beating Benjamin Becker, of Germany, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 in a semifinal tennis match at the SAP Open, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

Karlovic serves his way into SAP final
By RON HARRIS - Associated Press Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Ivo Karlovic rode a wave of aces to a 7-6 (5), 7-5 semifinal win Saturday over Benjamin Becker at the Sap Open, where the 6-foot-10 Croatian is looking for his first ATP title. Big serves continued to be the key for the unseeded Karlovic, who also knocked out seeded Americans James Blake and Mardy Fish.

He served 27 aces against Germany's Becker, who could do little more than guess at the direction of many of Karlovic's first and second serves. Karlovic will face the winner of the second semifinal between American Andy Roddick and Englishman Andy Murray.For most of the match, Becker was stuck in between two worlds with his return game - neither of them pretty. When he stood far behind the baseline to return serve, Karlovic would spin in a 109-mph off-speed serve to pull him wide. If Becker dared to creep in and take the ball early, Karlovic would boom a serve up the middle, often topping 140 mph. Becker's only breakpoint chance came in the first game of the match, but Karlovic quickly swept the opportunity aside. Karlovic was the weaker of the two players from the baseline, so he tried to shorten the points by following his big serve to the net behind low slicing backhand approach shots.

There were no service breaks in the first set, and the tiebreaker was close as well until Karlovic hit a forehand winner for the first and crucial mini-break. Karlovic threw in a 141-mph ace to close out the set. It was more of the same service dominance for both players in the second set. The lone break came at 5-5, when Becker fell behind 0-30 and Karlovic found a rhythm on his forehand returns.

Karlovic clenched his fists and gave a quick shout to the indoor ceiling as he won the final point to close out the match.Karlovic has lost only one service game so far in the tournament.

Ivo Karlovic, of Croatia, celebrates after beating Benjamin Becker, of Germany, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5, in a semifinal tennis match at the SAP Open, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

Sunday's Morning Line
February 18, 2007

By Joel Drucker

Ivo Karlovic vs. Andy Murray


Raw offense takes on savvy defense.  Karlovic is obviously the surprise of the week, the Croat in full bloom, serving massively into every corner and using the kitchen sink to disrupt, attack and, to his credit, annoy his opponents into febrile errors and emotional frustration.  Today he does so against a man who's rapidly emerging as one of the tour's most engaging players.  Murray's key: As a keen student of the game, he tracks the ball well, and because of that he's able to move not just with speed but with balance, grace and an innate awareness of what he must do with the ball in just the right way.  This is a man who does not fight the ball. He lets it get to where it must and then he has faith in his ability to hit the right shot.  The questions: Can he return Karlovic serves to get his way into the points?  If Ivo starts firing aces, will Murray vary his return position?  Can Karlovic slash enough returns to unsettle Murray?  In an odd way, this match could even be decided by who serves first and stays ahead.  Murray's defense is superb, and if he spits back those serves, he'll take charge of the points.  He should do this just enough to earn his second straight SAP Open title.  Murray in two.

2007 SAP Open  Hosted at HP Pavilion at San Jose 

Schedule of Play


 I Karlovic (CRO) vs [3]A Murray (GBR)
followed by

E Butorac (USA) / J Murray (GBR) vs [4] C Haggard (RSA) / R Schuettler (GER) 

SAP Open Main Draw Singles & Doubles Tournament - February 12-18, 2007 At HP Pavilion

For Ticket Information Call (408) ACE-2121

Op-ed: Eric Butorac could be Croatian as well. Does anybody know for sure?

Formated for CROWN by Nenad Bach
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