Ivo Karlovic continues to defy age-related myths by performing commendably on the tennis courts. The former World No. 14 showed his ability this week in US Open qualifying by winning three matches in three days to earn a spot in the Flushing Meadows main draw for an astonishing 17th time. The ATP database shows that Karlovic is the second-oldest major qualifier in the Open Era, only trailing Mal Anderson, who was 42 when he qualified for the Australian Open that was held in December, 1977. It is to be noted that the 42-year-old Croatian had not won successive matches at any level since reaching the final of an ATP Challenger Tour event, Houston, in November 2019.
“It’s a huge confidence boost because the last time that I won three matches in a row was two years ago. Last year I didn’t really compete,” Karlovic told ATPTour.com. “After two years, to be able to win three matches in a row in three days without any days off, it is really good for me because I know I have the tennis level and the physical level to do it.”
Four tournaments in the last two months gave the eight-time ATP Tour champion the confidence he needed ahead of a difficult qualifying challenge. “It is really difficult. All the guys are really good. Today’s competition is big and everybody knows how to play at a high level,” Ivo Karlovic said. “You cannot have more than 100 guys in the Top 100. All of those guys, even at No. 200 or No. 300, it’s not a really big difference in the level. It’s difficult, definitely.”
The Croatian tennis veteran will face an extremely difficult test in the first round against Cincinnati finalist and the fifth seed Andrey Rublev. “It’s amazing because he’s been doing really well, but I still feel I will have a chance if I do everything right,” Karlovic said. “I know he probably doesn’t like my style of the game, so I feel like I will have chances. But I really have nothing to lose. I’ll just try to enjoy every moment out there and we will see what will happen.”
Ivo Karlovic feels that only “little things” he has to focus on his opponent’s game, but the 42-year-old player’s main focus is on himself because of the weapons he brings to the court. “It was always like that. I always felt like I had control. If my mind is in the right place, if I feel motivated and relaxed in my head, I always felt like I can beat anybody,” Karlovic said. “As you get older, it’s not always easy to enjoy on the court. But I had time off from competition and on court I feel really good now.”
Expressing his delight to compete in front of fans, Ivo Karlovic said, “It’s always nice when there is a big crowd, especially now with what was happening last year and the beginning of this year. We learned to appreciate that even more, because there were a lot of tournaments where there was no audience. Even during qualifying, there was no audience and that feels strange.”
As of now, the World No. 223 is completely focused on the US Open, but stated that he has not yet decided on his future. “This week I did really well and I enjoyed being on the court,” Karlovic said.
“But going back to the Challengers, it is something I would have to decide if I want to do. I would say it’s 50-50. I don’t know yet, I have to decide after the US Open. I need to draw the line, see what my ranking is and what I want to do.”