Ivo Karlovic becomes the oldest Challenger champion in Calgary

Tennis - This was the first Challenger title for the 39-year-old Croat since Tiburon in 2011

by Jovica Ilic
Ivo Karlovic becomes the oldest Challenger champion in Calgary

On the latest ATP rankings list, we can find seven players older than 37 who still have at least one ATP point and three of those are still ranked inside the Top 350. Ivo Karlovic is the leader of the oldies pack and the 39-year-old Croat is still capable of producing some amazing results on the Tour to keep himself close to the place in the Top 100. Ivo has been struggling to find the form on the ATP Tour since the second part of 2017 and he dropped out from the Top 100 this June, having to go back to the Challenger level in order to grab some wins and recover his form.

With no plans to retire anytime soon (at least until the end of 2019), Karlovic entered his first Challenger event in five and a half years in Monterrey, reaching the final where he lost to David Ferrer in what has been the oldest Challenger final since this level was introduced in 1978! A week later Ivo suffered the first round loss to Dominik Koepfer in Fairfield after that allowed him to take some rest and prepare for an indoor event in Calgary.

Unlike in the recent times, Ivo was on the top of his game in the crucial moments, winning eight out of nine tie breaks to score five wins and become the oldest Challenger champion ever at the age of 39 years and seven months! Ivo blasted 126 aces in five matches and he survived some tight matches to go all the way and enter the record books, adding more fuel to his confidence and desire to stay on the Tour as long as possible.

Ivo needed two hours and 18 minutes to defeat Evan King 7-6 6-7 7-6 in the match with no breaks, firing 30 aces and saving one break point before prevailing 7-3 in the deciding tie break. In the second round, Ivo defeated Mathias Bourgue 7-6 4-6 6-3 in less than two hours, losing serve once but prevailing with a break in the eighth game of the third set to reach the quarters.

There, he had to work hard against Roberto Quiroz as well, prevailing 7-6 4-6 7-6 in two hours and two minutes after 27 aces hit and only two break points faced. Roberto saved all three break points he had to play against in the third set but Karlovic found the way to win the tie break 7-4 and secure the spot in the semis.

Collegiate player Borna Gojo was his next rival and they wrapped up the match in an hour and 31 minutes, with Ivo scoring a 7-6 7-6 triumph for the place in the final. There were two breaks of serve in the entire match and Ivo dominated in the tie breaks with two mini-breaks in each, serving well and reaching the final, his second on the Challenger Tour in three weeks.

There, Karlovic took down Jordan Thompson 7-6 6-3 in an hour and 13 minutes to win the title and secure his place in the Challenger record books, unlikely to be passed by any other player anytime soon. The oldest Challenger champions:


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Ivo Karlovic