Croatian tennis star Ivo Karlovic has nothing but respect fellow compatriot Goran Ivanisevic. "I always looked up to him,” Karlovic told the ATP website. “In Croatia, he was a star”. Karlovic first met Ivanisevic when he was 16 at a Davis Cup tie.
"It was cool. He was a super funny guy and young and wild, so it was fun,” Karlovic remembered. At the age of 17, Ivanisevic made the Australian Open quarterfinal as a qualifier. "After that a lot of kids tried to imitate him with his strokes: his forehand, backhand and serve,” Karlovic said.
“He was the idol for a lot of kids back then”. In 2000 and 2001, Karlovic and Ivanisevic teamed up for some doubles action. “I was a little bit nervous, but he’s a really cool guy,” Karlovic said.
“He was always trying to make it easier for me”.
Ivanisevic labels Ivanisevic as 'legend'
After Karlovic broke Ivanisevic's career aces record at the 2015 China Open, Ivanisevic texted Karlovic to congratulate him.
“It meant a lot. Every time we speak, I always listen because he’s a true legend. It’s not just in Croatia, but all over the world,” Karlovic said. “Of course it meant a lot to me that he congratulated me on that, because I also know that it was the biggest weapon in his game and it meant a lot to him also.
When he congratulated me, it was really nice”. This week in Newport, Ivanisevic will become the first Croatian to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. "Of course everybody in Croatia, everybody in my generation was looking up to him because he was the young star,” Karlovic said.
“For such a small country like Croatia, to have somebody in tennis in the Hall of Fame is just incredible”. In 2001, Ivanisevic won Wimbledon as a wildcard. “It was an underdog story,” Karlovic said.