x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Andy Murray stands tall to beat Ivo Karlovic

Giant Croat runs out of steam against the world No 4 in the second round of the Wimbledon championships and Maria Sharapova progresses.

Andy Murray took four sets to defeat Ivo Karlovic, the tallest player in the ATP, in the second round yesterday. Anja Niedringhaus / AP Photo
Andy Murray took four sets to defeat Ivo Karlovic, the tallest player in the ATP, in the second round yesterday. Anja Niedringhaus / AP Photo

Andy Murray cut Ivo Karlovic down to size as the world No 4 reached the third round at Wimbledon with a hard-earned victory over the tallest player on the ATP tour.

The Scot withstood a barrage of big serves from the Croat, who stands 2.08 metres, to win 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6 yesterday.

"Winning is all that is important when you play a guy with his style," Murray said. "It's so challenging to get into a rhythm.

"Tie-breaks are a bit of a lottery with someone like him and you just have to get a racquet on his serves and hope for the best."

Karlovic had hammered 305 aces in his 21 previous matches this year and once sent down a serve clocked at 251kph.

For a while he kept up that kind of brutal assault against Murray, firing down 17 more aces on Centre Court, but the world No 59 eventually ran out of steam.

Murray will play Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov or Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus for a place in the last 16.

In other matches, Japan's Kei Nishikori and the Belgian wildcard David Goffin demonstrated that big and brawny is not always required to succeed at the All England Club.

Goffin, 21, seemed little older or taller than the eager ball boys scampering around Court 14 during his 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 defeat of the American Jesse Levine.

Goffin was handed a wildcard for his Wimbledon main-draw debut after a stunning run to the last 16 as a qualifying round lucky loser at Roland Garros, where he led Roger Federer by a set before going out.

Federer was full of praise then for the angelic-looking Goffin and the Belgian's fan club will grow rapidly if he continues to play the kind of tennis he displayed after a nervy start against Levine.

With a few people starting to recognise him, Goffin said he had felt a new kind of pressure.

"I didn't start very well. I was a little bit nervous because on the paper I was favourite, but it's never easy to manage a match like this," he said. "I'm feeling good, though. I'm really happy to turn this situation in my favour."

Nishikori, 22, and seeded No 19 here, made a run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, and he advanced to the last 16 here with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 victory over Florent Serra of France.

A big name back home, Nishikori was cheered on by Japanese fans as he became the first man from that nation to reach the third round at Wimbledon since Shuzo Matsuoka 17 years ago.

In a pair of upsets, Gilles Simon of France, the No 16 seed, was ousted 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 by the Xavier Malisse, a 31-year-old Belgian ranked No 75; and Benoit Paire of France knocked out the Ukrainian Alexandr Golgopolov, the No 22 seed, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams each took another step deeper into the tournament as they progressed to the third round at Wimbledon yesterday.

Sharapova, the top seed, squandered a second-set lead as her darkness-delayed match with the Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova was resumed but dominated the third set in a 7-6, 6-7, 6-0 victory.

“It felt like two matches, in a way,” Sharapova said. “I wanted to start off really well because I knew I was up a break. Didn’t go according to plan. Really served sloppy.”

Williams, who is seeking her fifth women’s singles title, brushed aside Melinda Czink 6-1, 6-4 in the first match on Centre Court.

“I love my serve,” Williams said, “and I love feeling good when I serve.”

The No 6 seed will face China’s Zheng Jie in the third round after the 25th seed won her match against Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak. Sharapova will play Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei.

Elsewhere, Britain’s Anne Keothavong lost out in a one-sided clash against Italy’s Sara Errani.

Errani, seeded 10th, rushed past the Briton in the opener on Court Two to win 6-1, 6-1 in a shade over an hour.

Keothavong said: “I just forced it a bit too much. She didn’t hit me off the court or anything like that. She was putting the ball in deep, she played some great drop shots. I managed to just hit myself off the court, I guess.”

Ana Ivanovic progressed into the third round after she beat Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3, 7-6.

She will face Germany’s Julia Goerges in the next round; the German triumphed over Anastasia Yakimova in straight sets.

Italy’s Roberta Vinci defeated Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-3 and Tamira Paszek of Austria routed Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1.

Christina McHale, Yaroslava Shvedova, Angelique Kerber and Klara Zakopalova also won their matches.

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