x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

'Silly' season for Karlovic as Croatia have fun against US

Ivo Karlovic rallies from two sets down to beat James Blake as Croatia took a commanding 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup quarter-final.

Ivo Karlovic played one of the "biggest matches of his career" to beat James Blake as Croatia took a commanding 2-0 lead over the United States in their Davis Cup quarter-final in Porec. Karlovic, the tallest player on the ATP Tour at nearly 7ft, rallied from two sets down to win 6-7 (5-7), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 after 3hr 38min, giving the hosts a wonderful start. Marin Cilic, Croatia's No 1, then made the tie 2-0 with another battling 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(3-7), 6-1, 8-6 win over Mardy Fish, who was brought into the team as cover for injured Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick.

"This is surely one of the biggest matches in my career," said Karlovic. "Playing five sets for me, being tall and heavy, is not easy. I was a bit nervous at the start, playing before the home crowd, but I became more relaxed as the match went on, and I managed to turn it around." "My job was to win that match and I didn't do the job," said Blake, adding that Karlovic's serve "sometimes makes us look silly".

The US, 32-time Davis Cup winners, have lost both their previous encounters against Croatia and have won from 0-2 down only once, in 1934 against Austria. In the other quarter-finals, Israel have taken a surprising 2-0 lead over Russia and last year's finalists Spain and Argentina were both tied after the opening day. Defending champions Spain, hosting Germany in Marbella, were 1-1, while Argentina were even with the Czech Republic in Ostrava. Argentina fell behind when Tomas Berdych beat Juan Monaco in five sets, but Juan Martin Del Potro levelled the tie at 1-1 with a straight sets win over Ivo Minar.

Spain had Fernando Verdasco to thank for putting them in front against Germany, but Philipp Kohlschreiber brushed aside Tommy Robredo to make it 1-1. sports@thenational.ae