Ivo Karlovic ends five-year drought at Wimbledon

Chris Chase

Ivo Karlovic's game seems to be tailor-made for the grass courts of Wimbledon. Thanks to his booming serve, which is widely considered the best on the ATP Tour, the 6 foot 10 inch Karlovic has won multiple titles on grass and is routinely seeded higher than his world ranking at Wimbledon. His Croatian countryman, Goran Ivanisevic, won a Wimbledon title and made three Championship finals with a very similar (albeit more refined) game.

That's why it's remarkable that, before today, Karlovic hadn't won a match at Wimbledon since 2004. After defeating defending champ Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, it was widely expected that Karlovic would make deep runs into Wimbledon an annual tradition. But, four straight first round losses (including one to a late qualifier) has made Karlovic a forgotten man in England.

Despite his No. 22 seed, Karlovic went off at 150-1 odds and figured to be out of the tournament early again. That still may happen, but it would have to wait until the second round.

Karlovic's losing streak ended Monday as the No. 22 seed beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-3. He had 32 aces in just 15 service games.

Up next for the Croat is Steve Darcis of Beligum. Given his recent Wimbledon history, it's presumptuous to predict a Karlovic victory, but if it does happen, looming in the third round could be fellow boomer Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That match-up between two of the biggest servers in the game could make for some interesting fireworks during early play at the All England Club.