Karlovic’s Oz Open ace record

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

IVO KARLOVIC fired down 75 aces in a record Aus­tralian Open marathon against Ar­gentina’s Ho­ra­cio Ze­bal­los which lasted five hours, 15 min­utes and fin­ished in a 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 first-round vic­tory for the Croa­t­ian yes­ter­day.

The 37-yearold 20th seed threw his hands in the air in de­light after Ze­bal­los bal­looned an at­tempted lob high into the night sky to fi­nally bring an end to the gru­elling 157-minute fifth set.

Karlovic, em­braced his ex­hausted op­po­nent then ex­changed high fives with a large part of the crowd which had stuck with the contest from its start in the af­ter­noon sun to the fin­ish un­der the low wattage lights on the tiny Court 19.

With all the other matches on the outer courts long fin­ished, a car­ni­val at­mos­phere had de­vel­oped as the two play­ers tried and failed to break each other’s serve in the fi­nal set.

Or­gan­is­ers sent ball­boys run­ning off to get more en­ergy drinks as the marathon con­tin­ued with the gloom punc­tu­ated oc­ca­sion­ally by fire­works set off at a match at the neigh­bour­ing Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“I was just try­ing to hang in there, just point by point,” said Karlovic.

“(I had en­ergy drink) gatorades and wa­ter, I don’t know. I be­gan re­ally bad. As the match was go­ing on, it was lit­tle less hot also.”

Karlovic’s ace to­tal was an Aus­tralian Open record for a match and he flung down 38 in the fi­nal set alone.

Ze­bal­los chipped in with 33 in the match and 15 in the last stanza. The break point Karlovic con­verted was only the fourth in the 42 games in the de­cid­ing set, with long ral­lies at a pre­mium as the serves con­tin­ued to thwack into the back fence at both ends.

De­spite its length, the contest was still 38 min­utes shy of the record for the long­est match at the Aus­tralian Open – the 2012 fi­nal be­tween No­vak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal hav­ing gone five hours and 53 min­utes. – Reuters

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