Today from the ATP, here’s an item about world No. 18 Ivo Karlovic that gets progressively sadder:
Ivo Karlovic approaches the practice desk at the Ecuador Open, writes his name with a blue pen on the sheet to book a court from 11.30-1.30, and specifies that he is looking for a practice partner.
He goes back to the hotel to sleep. Maybe when he returns to the Club Jacarandá, someone will have signed up to be his practice partner, so he can play some points.
Let’s hope he gets to play some points.
But when he gets back and checks the sheet, no one has written their name down next to his. In other columns he reads: Bellucci + Monteiro, Estrella + Zampieri, Cerratani + Oswald.
Hm, must be a fluke.
All the practice courts at 11.30 have at least two players booked in. All except for the court of the top seed in Quito. For the third time during his stay at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament - and for the thousandth time during his 17-year career - Karlovic must practise alone with his coach, the Serbian Petar Popovic.
What the—the thousandth time?
He asks for three tubes of balls and walks towards practice court No. 7, while fans stare at him open-mouthed. Being 6'11" will cause that reaction.
Thirty-seven-year-old Karlovic fits neatly into the servebot archetype: big serve, big forehand, limited mobility, plays some of the shortest points in the sport. Plenty of them end with a quick serve-and-volley; his 11,734 aces are good for the all-time ATP record. While it might be hard to get into a pleasant rhythm against an opponent playing this type of staccato tennis, this guy doesn’t deserve to be a practice-court pariah. Karlovic’s an elite tennis player and he surely knows how to maintain a rally. It would be valuable practice for an opponent’s return of serve. And for handling flat pace, in general. And for tightening up passing shots when there’s an imposing figure at the net. And—is anyone out there listening?
As much as the article tries to sell the fun relationship Karlovic has with his coach, I’m sure there are plenty of times big Ivo just wants to bat a ball around with the rest of the boys and girls, and they all run away.