Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon marvels at Ivo Karlovic.
We don’t know if Ivo Karlovic has ever thought of writing an autobiography in the form of a children’s story…but maybe he should?
Because, like, have you seen the headline on this item? “Towering Croatian struggles for practice partners on tour.” Pretty good, right? It spawned this item, which has an even better headline: “Nobody in the whole world wants to practice with poor Ivo Karlovic.”
Anyone else can see the scene? Giant Ivo had always stood out in the tennis village. He was bigger than most, and because of that couldn’t find any friends to hit the ball with. He hits the ball too heavy, other tennis people would complain, so Ivo always hit alone. Without any friends, but he loved tennis so much, so he kept hitting.
That’s how the children’s story of Ivo would go, with him winning a nice, big prize at the end, etc. etc. But this is neither here nor there, and neither are we here for the children’s story of Ivo Karlovic.
That said, in a few years you’ll probably be able to tell your children and your children’s children that you saw the most interesting man in tennis play, that you watched the 37-year-old Croatian on a tennis court.
Because while the whole tennis world is lamenting the nearing end to the career of Roger Federer, this 2017 season could be the last, or one of the last ones, for Karlovic. And if it is? Well, here are a few important things to know about the tallest player on tour.
He’s tall and has tall nicknames
Maybe you’ve heard? I’ve notably just mentioned it in the previous sentence… Karlovic is tall, very, very tall, at six-foot-eleven. And he’s been given quite a legion of different nicknames, from “Croatian Giant” and “White Shreky” to “Dr. Ivo”—though maybe we’ve overthinking this?
He’s the Ace King
That should be the only nickname he needs. In October 2015, Karlovic jumped Goran Ivanisevic’s tally of 10,237 career aces in Beijing but, in what’s quite the microcosm of his career, 26 aces in that match weren’t enough to overcome middling Pablo Cuevas.
Karlovic may be the ATP Ace King, but the rest of his game is somewhat limited: he has 8 career titles in a 17-year career, which is just okay, and yet he’s managed a career-high of World No. 14 in 2008. He hits a ton of aces, plays matches with few rallies but those matches can last longer than you might expect: in the 2009 Davis Cup semifinals, he lost a match in which he hit 78 aces against Radek Stepanek and which lasted five hours and 59 minutes. There’s also a five-set win in five hours and a half at this year’s Australian Open.
He has Novak Djokovic’s number
Perhaps the most random nugget of info about Dr. Ivo is his career 2-1 record over the great Serbian Novak Djokovic. You can look it up, it’s true.
He is a great Twitter follow
Really, the one reason to write this article was to point out what a wonderful personality Karlovic is on Twitter. He’ll retweet you if you praise him. He’ll call out commentators. And he’ll post selfies with the Davis Cup. Give him a follow, you won’t be disappointed.
Happy New Year everyone!!! #inthegymeverydayevenonnewyearsday pic.twitter.com/By0TxRfRPY
— ivo karlovic (@ivokarlovic) January 1, 2017
Gym gym gym gym gym gym. U see me I be In gym gym gym gym gym gym ??
— ivo karlovic (@ivokarlovic) November 22, 2016
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG