Ivo Karlovic has already made history at Indian Wells as the oldest man to win an ATP Masters 1000 match, and the 40-year-old Croatian doesn’t want to stop there.
Karlovic who has slammed an ATP record 13,235 aces, Starting tennis, Funds were short, and so was quality coaching and court time. Karlovic had already decided he preferred tennis to basketball despite attempts to recruit him.
He would wait until the evening when the tennis courts in Zagreb were empty and then use the balls he could find and hit serves on his own, sometimes after dark.
He did not find a regular coach until his early 20s, and despite his imposing presence he managed to fly far below the radar until the first round of Wimbledon in 2003, where, as an all-but-unknown qualifier in an age before social media, he upset the defending champion Lleyton Hewitt in four sets on Centre Court.
Karlovic followed up his milestone first-round win, then a second-round victory over Borna Coric. He fired 20 aces past 22-year-old Coric and defeated Prajnesh Gunneswaran. In the quarter-finals, he lost to Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3 in just 59 minutes at the BNP Paribas Open.
Karlovic’s status as the event’s elder statesman is nothing new. “Every week I am the oldest at something,” said Karlovic, who became the oldest man in more than four decades to reach an ATP final when he finished runner-up in Pune in January.
About emphasis on his age, being sarcastic he said: “Next week it will be the oldest ever to walk without implants in his hip…”
Karlovic has dealt with his share of injuries in 18 years as a pro, as well as a debilitating bout of viral meningitis in 2013 that required a lengthy recovery. Karlovic has remained a factor by overcoming a major Achilles’ tendon injury in 2010 and encephalitis in 2013, which caused debilitating headaches and left him temporarily without feeling in his right arm.
He has remained a force by focusing on fitness and dropping weight to take the pressure off his knees and other joints. He is down to 225 pounds, from 245 in 2011.
“Obviously there’s always issues with my knee, shoulder, back, elbow. I can go on, but it’s all good, it is nice that I’m still doing this, which I love, so hopefully, I can continue much longer. But if not, it’s also good.” Karlovic said.
The idea of spending more time with his young family, coupled with lacklustre results and a falling ranking, had him wondering if it was time to retire last year.
But now that he’s on the rise again – up to 89th in the world from 138th last September – Karlovic is feeling rejuvenated.
Despite not retiring last year, Karlovic knows the clock is ticking “I know that I will not continue forever,” he said. “So I’m trying to squeeze as much as I can.”
Ivo Karlovic at 40 has two kids, a 7-year-old daughter, and an 18-month-old son, and he wants his kids to have a memory of him as a professional tennis player.
He said “But now I also have a little one who is one-and-a-half years old,” said Karlovic, now ranked No. 89. “So I guess for him to remember me I’m going to have to play at least another eight more years.”
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