For those about to rock…

What made him famous comes next

Photo: Yahoo! Images


Anyone who’s acquainted to the good ole rock and roll knows how this is going to end. For the many others who aren’t, your only option is reading this short piece – after all, time is short for everything, says what about reading? But I promise I will (try to) make it entertaining.

They’re not that different, after all. Ok, who am I trying to fool? The only similarity between Ivo Karlovic and Juan Martin Del Potro is their above average height and the hard way they hit tennis balls. Other than that, they’re opposites: one is a still young Argentine, who, on his short-lived career, already won a Slam and made a Masters Series final, claiming eight titles in the last four years. The other, a veteran (32 years) serving monster who could behead you with one of his aces – he held the first three records for most in one match, until Isner and Mahut destroyed them, who won only four ATP titles, and starting a late rise in the rankings in 2007, peaking at no.14 after reaching his only Masters Series semifinal – his best result, on which achieved also his biggest win, over then no.1 Roger Federer.

Hmm… I must be forgetting something… OH YES, THE COMEBACK.

Both Ivo and Del Potro were living their lives as tennis stars, comfortably playing high level tennis (DelPo higher) until they were sidelined. Of course, the Argentinean got the worst – his wrist was no longer working for him, but against – and missed practically the 2010 season on his entirety, but you all know that. You also know that Karlovic also had his ’10 cut short – the last tournament he played was the Madrid Masters, before Roland Garros.

3rd thing in common, they suffered. Del Potro easily fell to players like Olivier Rochus and Feliciano Lopez, and, by the end of 2010, he was out of the top-200.

But the guy wasn’t willing to give up. While starting the year with a 2-2 record in Australia made a pessimistic side of him show up, saying it would be a tough way back to the top, Dr. Ivo, who was still in the top-100, also started going downhill.

Ivo, who was never a “top dog”, according to the new definitions of the term (i.e.: He’d never be picked to win a Masters Series or bother the favorites at a Slam, for example) struggled even more, we can say. Even though he doesn’t win games only with his service, we can’t just ignore and say it doesn’t affects him. Without his confidence, and losses coming all the way while the wins were each time rarer, Karlovic, via Twitter, expressed his unhappiness, towards himself, the anti-doping rules and the way he was playing.

4th thing in common, Indian Wells. They both arrived at the first Masters of the year on different moods. Del Potro had just won his 1st title since the comeback, and was riding a three semifinal streak – he had nowhere to go but up, and was heading there right now, rising from circa 430 in the world to 90 in three tournaments. With many ruling him back as a contender, DelPo himself made sure to slow things down and say was still a long way to go before challenging the “top dogs”, aka the top-10s.

On the other extremity of the machine, Ivo Karlovic was enjoying his worst ranking in half a decade, out of the top-200, was lost his last four matches without winning a set – he seemed to be done. The 2.08m Croat had the missing cherry on his ice cream when to him was denied a wildcard for Sony Ericsson Open qualifying – and he’s even a resident!

But, well, thankfully, it all came down to tennis. And they did what they do best: winning. Both survived their first rounds, but the second played a pivotal role on Ivo’s presence here: he faced – and defeated – world no.6 David Ferrer, recording his first top-10 win since Wimbledon 2009. JMDP also wrote his name on Indian Wells’ history as he defeated Ivan Ljubicic in the 2nd round, imposing to a title holder his first opener loss in four years at the Californian event.

And they kept it going. Using all their experience – Ivo’s from a 32 year man who’s in the business for so long and DelPo’s from a former no.4, Slam winner – they kept the energy flowing. Karlovic upset another two seeds – Simon and Montañes – en route to reaching his first Masters quarterfinal since 2008. If Nadal was too much for him? Yes, it was. But he added some epicity into it, taking it to three and forcing Nadal to show why he’s number 1, winning ugly in a 16-point third set tie-break.

Del Potro had his campaign jeopardized by the flu, but followed Ivo’s steps (or Ivo followed his?) – ousted one of the new sensations of the circuit by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov and then was the nemesis of Robin Soderling’s nemesis. It’s true he got to the semifinals thanks to a Tommy Robredo walkover, but for real, he could have fallen to any of his previous three foes – and he didn’t. Nadal was also two strong for him – 4 and 4 to avoid a 4th straight win for DelPo in their H2H.

But the fact is there’s more than only winning at a tennis match. And the sympathetic Croat giant and the Argentinean hard-courter showed it at this Indian Wells. They showed they rock. And you know what? Tennis only wins whey they win.

Please, establish yourself again soon, Ivo – because Juan M. looks to be already there.

And, only to complete the title.

Dr. Ivo and DelPo… we salute you!


About Pete S. Liguori
Pete was born in São Paulo, Brasil. Loves sports - pigskin fanatic, tennis lover. One of his most famous quotes is "I'm no Tolstoi, but I love the Dallas Cowboys" His favorite quote of all time is "I'll keep playing", unknown author.

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