Karlovic will offer different challenge for Murray

Croatia's Ivo Karlovic in action
Croatia's Ivo Karlovic in action
Share this article
Have your say

Andy Murray is expecting to find Wimbledon’s grass a far less comfortable place when he returns for his second-round match today.

The fourth seed began his campaign on Tuesday with a brilliant display to beat Nikolay Davydenko, losing only six games in what looked a potentially tricky encounter against the former world No 3.

The prize for that victory, though, is a second-round meeting with Ivo Karlovic, the 6ft 10ins Croatian who reached the quarter-finals at the All England Club in 2009.

The 33-year-old has not been in that kind of form this season and is ranked down at 59th, but Murray remains understandably wary of a man who possesses one of the best serves in tennis history.

“It’s a tough match,” said Murray. “It’s very hard to get into a rhythm against someone like that.

“He’s made it very difficult for a lot of players over the last five or six years because he serves so well and makes you feel pretty uncomfortable on the court.

“There’s going to be games where you might not even touch the ball where he’s serving, so you need to try to stay in the zone and not lose focus on your service games. I’ll need to serve well against him.

“A lot depends on the day when you’re playing a guy that’s 6ft 10ins, because a lot of it is just reaction.

“Sometimes you’ll see it, sometimes you might pick a couple serves in a row, sometimes you won’t.”

Murray and Karlovic have played three times before, with the Scot winning each time, but all have been close, and Karlovic has some notable scalps on grass, including the then defending champion Lleyton Hewitt in the opening round of Wimbledon in 2003.

Murray managed to get his practice session in before the rain arrived yesterday, hitting with talented British teenager Oli Golding.

Preparing for a match against a player with such an unusual weapon is a challenge in itself.

Murray said: “Even when I’m not playing someone like Karlovic, when I’m practising, I always have Dani (Vallverdu) or any of my coaches stand and serve from just behind the service line.

“It’s just for the reaction and getting used to the ball coming from that height.

“That’s really the only thing you can do.”

Karlovic returned to Court Five yesterday to complete his first-round match with Dudi Sela, and endured a rain break before triumphing 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7/5).

Karlovic, the tallest player to be ranked in the top 100, was left frustrated by the weather but relieved to come through in straight sets against Sela.

He said: “This is how it is over here. I was ready for it but it wasn’t easy because I was already leading and then we had to stop again and again.

“Then I was also a little bit nervous because, what if I lose this set now? But in the end it all was okay.”

The Croatian will go into today’s match confident he can cause a huge upset by knocking out the home favourite.

“If I don’t think so, I can leave right now and go home,” he said.

“I’m confident on my serve and I feel good, so (today) hopefully it will be a good match for me.”

Karlovic’s run in 2009 was his best at a grand slam, with his scalps including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Fernando Verdasco before he lost out to eventual winner Roger Federer in the last eight.

He added: “Now I am little bit older. I’ve also had injuries: back, knee, heel, shoulder. But I feel good at the moment. Everything is fine now.”

Murray is enjoying sharing the limelight at Wimbledon this year, as one of five British players to have survived the first round. Heather Watson is already into round three, the first home woman to have done so for 10 years.

Murray said: “Anytime the Brits do well in slams it’s good for British tennis. It’s been a good tournament so far, and hopefully it continues.”

Andy Roddick snuffed out Jamie Baker’s hopes of further British success as the American finished off the plucky Scot in three sets.

Resuming a set and a break up after a rain delay from Tuesday, Roddick clinched the second set of their first-round match with ease before edging a nervy third to run out a 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 7-5 winner.

Despite losing in straight sets, Baker, who was diagnosed with a deadly blood disorder four years ago, will take heart from his performance.

The 25-year-old was Roddick’s equal for much of the encounter, trading powerful blows with the 2003 US Open champion and former world No 1 to earn five break points, none of which he could ultimately convert.

Baker, ranked 161 places below Roddick, started off confidently when the players returned to Court One yesterday evening, but he could not prevent the American moving two sets to love ahead, the 30-year-old clinching the set with a fine ace.

Baker double-faulted but still managed to hold his serve at the start of the deciding set and the Glaswegian then engineered a break point in the fourth game.

He was unable to take it, though, clearing the baseline after a powerful serve from Roddick.

The British No 3 had another two break points in Roddick’s following service game but his opponent upped his game and used all his experience to see off the threat to leave the set at 3-3.

Roddick moved in for the kill in the ninth game but Baker dug deep and survived three break points, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Baker offered Roddick a break point in the 11th game after going long with a forehand and the Scot collapsed under pressure, failing with a cheeky drop shot after a long rally.

Serving for the match, Roddick showed his class by holding to love to set up a second-round meeting with 19th seed Kei Nishikori.