Saturday, September 19, 2009

DAVIS CUP SEMIS: Stepanek fights off 78 aces from Karlovic, Spain leads Israel 2-0

The Czechs dug really deep to prevail 2-0 on day one of the Davis Cup semifinal tie between the Czech Republic and Croatia.

I don't really know how Radek Stepanek did it, but somehow the Czech endured a 6 hour match against towering Croat, Ivo Karlovic, who slammed past Stepanek a new record of 78 aces yet still managed to lose the match, despite holding 4 match points.

Karlovic breaks his own record of most aces per match in the same way Usain Bolt breaks his own world record for the 100m sprint; both leave us in disbelief as they improve on their own records with surreal margins (Karlovic's old record was 55 aces).

My question is: How do you hit 78 aces yet still manage to lose a match? Or more like, how do you face 78 aces yet still manage to break serve and prevail after 6 hours, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 16-14?

I haven't seen the match but somehow I am certain it was pretty boring. The tie-break sets and the ace count say it all.

“I am very happy that I was able to pull it through... The match was going crazy; we were not able to break each other. I was the one who was using more fitness. He had 4 match points in the 5th set but I stayed mentally strong and it paid off at the end. You can’t live through bigger emotions than Davis Cup and this match just proved it.”

This match says a lot about Stepanek, who together with Tomas Berdych, have put Czech Republic in an excellent position to close in on the final.

Berdych overcame US Open quarterfinalist, Marin Cilic, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, to make it 2-0 for the Czechs. Again this scoreline shows resilience from Berdych, who managed to close the match despite Cilic's comeback from 2 sets to love down.

So kudos to the Czech duo for pulling off some awesome victories. Now they are 1 rubber away from reaching the final.

Meanwhile, the Spaniards did not seem to be bothered by the absence of Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco from their semifinal squad as they eased to a 2-0 lead over Israel, as both Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer recorded straight sets wins.

From where we are right now, it looks like it'll be a Spain-Czech final... unless someone is really in the mood for a major comeback. We'll find out more after the doubles on Saturday.


marooned84 said...

Looks like Spain will easily take it, again!
I've seen parts of the match. It's not fun to watch an ace machine, u know. It's like whoever gonna be bored first will lose! Maybe the ace record says something about the game, u know. How the most talented player (Nadal in my opinion) has an ace to be almost ashamed of, yet he still manage to beat whoever stands in his way when he's playing good enough to do it. Aces simply isn't everything.

Reem said...

Karlovic is such a drag to watch. I was at Wimbledon this year and I specifically chose to ditch the Karlovic-Verdasco fourth round match because the thought of Karlovic acing his way on grass instantly put me to sleep.

The fact that he lost to Stepanek at the end says a lot about the other parts of his game.

As for serves, I believe that in order to survive in today's game you MUST have a strong serve. Even Nadal had to improve his serve before he managed to win Wimbledon or the Oz Open. His ace count of course is nothing compared to that of Roddick, Federer, Murray or any of the other players, but still it has drastically improved.

But of course, like you said, aces aren't everything, and the Karlovic-Stepanek match proved it.