Ivo Karlovic upsets Benjamin Becker in the first round of US Men’s Clay Court Championship

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Ivo Karlovic upsets Benjamin Becker in the first round of US Men’s Clay Court Championship
Croatian qualifier Ivo Karlovic edged past 5th seeded German Benjamin Becker in straight sets to advance to the second round at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston on Tuesday.
Karlovic maintained his winning record against world number 65 Becker by trashing the German with a 7-6(5), 6-4 score line. He has now extended his lead in their head-to-head series by 6-0. They last duelled on the hard courts
of Memphis last year where Karlovic was victorious with a straight set win.
Ranked 174th in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, the Croat displayed awe-inspiring skills here. In the opening set, Karlovic smacked five aces, conceded zero breakpoint and committed zero double faults.
He also had an acceptable first serve share of 65 percent as compared to the German’s slightly lower 61 percent, registering a superb 95 percent win on it. He held his serves spectacularly though he failed to convert two of two breakpoint opportunities. The
set eventually went to tiebreaker where the Croat prevailed through his awesome forehands and agility to clinch the set with a 7-6(5) win.
The 32-year-old Karlovic, who made a quarter-final berth at Indian Wells before losing to world number one Rafael Nadal, carried his winning ways into the second set as he held his opening serve. He then held his entire serve
by hammering winners from his arsenal of skills and he earned an amazing 92 percent win on his slightly higher first serve share. The Croat found two breakpoint opportunities in this set as well and was able to convert one to his advantage to win the final
set with a 6-4 score line.
"It was humid in the beginning and I had to adjust a little bit but it was good," said Karlovic, who is on the mend from an Achilles’ heel injury.
The 29-year-old Becker, who had a poor performance this season of winning only two out of ten matches, played poorly throughout the match in this tournament as well. He clobbered three double faults and found no breakpoint
opportunity. The German had an acceptable first serve share but took no advantage of it and eventually lost the match.
The Croat will next face world number 89, Russian Igor Kunitsyn who reached this spot after warding off early resistance from the 100th ranked German Mischa Zverev.
The 29-year-old Kunitsyn overpowered the 23-year-old German by earning more win on his lower first serve share and by converting six out of fourteen breakpoint opportunities to his advantage to seal the match with a 7-6(1),
6-2 win.



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