After Rafael Nadal’s surprise defeat earlier in the week to a German qualifier, it was the turn of Novak Djokovic to suffer unexpected defeat in Doha at the hands of the big serving Croatian, Ivo Karlovic. At 6 ft 11 in, the giant player has always been a dangerous opponent in the draw, but at 35-years of age it had been thought that his best days were behind him, yet he utilised the awkward high winds at the Qatar Open to his advantage as his opponent floundered and was unusually out of sorts on his fabled ground strokes. Twenty-one aces for the Croatian no doubt helped his cause as he turned around the loss of the first set on a tie-break, to take the next two 7-6 6-4 to move into the semi-finals at the tournament.
Karlovic has been on the tour since 2000 and has earned a solid living out of the sport since then, but has never broken into the top ten, with his highest ranking being 14 back in 2008. British #Tennis fans may well remember him reaching the quarter-finals there at Wimbledon 2009, which remains his best performance at a Grand Slam event. Five ATP singles’ titles is perhaps scant reward for someone with his service power, as his matches frequently involve at least one tie-break due to the difficulty that many of his opponents have in mastering his awkward service, coming as it does from such a high trajectory.
With the top two seeds now both out, third seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic now picks up the favourite’s tag, after he defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-1 to book his semi-final place against the Italian Andreas Seppi. Seppi had a tougher time against Ivan Dodig of Croatia, before clinching his match 7-5 6-4, and will need to find improved form to handle the powerful Berdych one feels.
Karlovic will face the ever competitive, David Ferrer, after the consistent Spaniard had too much for the upcoming German Dustin Brown, losing only four games en route to victory.
World number two, Roger Federer also suffered a scare in his match in the Brisbane International event on Thursday, before reaching the quarter-finals there. He lost the first set 6-4 to Aussie wildcard entrant John Millman before battling back to take the last two sets 6-4 6-3. The world number 153 was a break up in the second set before the Swiss maestro began to take charge, breaking his rival’s serve twice to secure the levelling set and the result was never in doubt thereafter. #CelebritiesFederer played his quarter-final match earlier today and was much more convincing, losing only one game to another Australian, James Duckworth. He will now play the dangerous Bulgarian, Grigor Dimitrov in the semis, in a tournament where all of the top seeds made the last four, as both Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic both also came through their quarter-final matches successfully. Raonic had the toughest test, eventually defeating Australian Sam Groth 7-6 3-6 7-6, and now faces Nishikori in the other semi-final.