Today was stupidly hot and there were only two matches on the card that I wanted to see, but was unable to see one of them due to the other going well over time. In the end it was a long and rewarding day which is what counts.
Seppi vs. Karlovic
This was a huge opportunity for both players to make the quarter finals as the winner will play Kyle Edmund in the 4th round so there was a lot at stake. Thankfully the match was played with the roof open as the indoor conditions would have suited Karlovic taking out the sun and the wind. Slow start Seppi wasn't on show as he was able to get an early break and run through the set to take it 6-3. He was returning the Karlovic serve very well who initially wasn't hitting them at full capacity. It's a tactic for the 39 year old as a way to preserve the serving arm as that's what is making him the money over his career, this in addition to lasting 5 sets and previous round a 12-10 win. Seppi had a half chance for another break in the 2nd set which was saved by Karlovic. Seppi played a solid breaker and was able to take the 2nd set.
At the start of the 3rd set Karlovic called for the trainer but didn't receive a medical timeout. Big Ivo finally started cranking up the serve and was hitting his spots, it's a major advantage serving from a tree hitting 210 km/h wide and the difficulty of playing Karlovic is not getting an opportunity to get into service games. Seppi was comfortable holding his own service games which is what you need to do when playing Karlovic, then take the rare opportunities on offer. Seppi served a double fault on the first point of the breaker and was behind ever since as the big Croatian takes the 3rd set. Karlovic is serving magnificently in the 4th set cranking up the service speeds as the sun went down. All Seppi could do was just take care of his own delivery and was frustrated at Karlovic serving bombs in both directions. As per 3rd set we end up at the tiebreaker which was going on serve, then Seppi hit a backhand into the net and Ivo takes the set.
Seppi matches are rarely routine and this was no different. Thankfully the Aus Open doesn't have that nonsense of a 5th set tiebreaker when you're at a Grand Slam event, you should win by breaking your opponents serve not winning a crapshoot. In this case Seppi could have easily lost this match in a 5th set tiebreaker without losing a serve in the match. As the weaker server it was good that Seppi started serving in the 5th set. He was placing the serve well and once the rally went over 5 strokes he was winning nearly all of them. Karlovic was serving bombs but in the middle of the 5th set Seppi was starting to read the serve better and creating half chances which were snuffed out by the big man.
After getting some half chances when Karlovic was serving at 7-8, Seppi was able to make some excellent returns and passing the big man at the net. The South Tyrolean Superman was able to get two match points, he was unsuccessful on the first and then took the second. Seppi let the frustrations out with a roar and celebrated knowing what a difficult match it was mentally when playing Karlovic, the games to go quickly and frustrations increase when serves a 400km/h serve wide on a big point.
Tennis is a brutal sport mentally but thankfully Seppi was able to break to win the match which is what players should be doing at this level, though some tennis writers think Slams should be best of 3 sets with tiebreakers, then again there are some who believe the earth is flat.
Sorry Diego Schwartzman and Dogs Balls I was unable to watch your match due to a giant Croatian who fought and competed hard to take a match to 5 sets when in ideal world 3 would have been sufficient. Think there'll only be one more report to come after this