Ivo Karlovic continued his return to the upper echelon of tennis yesterday by knocking out his fellow short-challenged buddy John Isner in what else, three tiebreakers! Karlovic saved two match points to turn away Isner 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 7-6(9) in the Houston quarterfinals.
In the match of the two tallest players in the sport, Karlovic finished with 24 aces, Isner 23. Both were broken once in the second set. The Croat has now won two of three against John.
Karlovic, who had to qualify for the tournament because of his No. 174 ranking, now plays the last American standing, Ryan Sweeting. Sweeting is appearing in his first ATP semifinal after beating Gabishvili.
Heading into the teeth of the clay season, Isner’s record on the season is a poor 8-8. Have we seen the very best from big John?
In the other semifinal it’s Pablo Cuevas against Kei Nishkori. Nishikori earned the upset of the tournament beating Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-2 to deny the American a place in the ATP top 10 come Monday had he won the title.
“It’s disappointing, especially at a place like Houston where I have great memories. It would have been a nice place to do it, especially in the States. And being the No. 1 American is a responsibility each time you step on the court.”
Said Nishikori, “I don’t think [Mardy] played great today. He missed a lot. I played good enough to beat him and played good clay court tennis. I was trying to run him around and hit hard to his forehand. I returned well today.”
Tennis Channel has live coverage today of both semifinals.
At the WTA stop in Charleston World No. 1 Caroline Woziacki takes on Jelena Jankovic in one semifinal. In the other it’s Elena Vesnina v. Peng Shuai.
Wozniacki was down a break in the second and third sets in her 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win yesterday over Yanina Wickmayer. Jankovic has won four of five against the Dane.
“We’ve never played each other on clay,” Jankovic said. “Obviously we know each other’s games very well, but I want to play my tennis. I want to continue to do the things I do best and not really let her do what she likes to do best.”
And in Marbella, Spain, Victoria Azarenka ran her win streak up to nine after Dinara Safina retired with a back injury down 5-1 in the first set. Azarenka just won the Miami title last Saturday.
HOUSTON SATURDAY SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
[Q] I Karlovic (CRO) vs [WC] R Sweeting (USA)
Not Before 2:20 PM
 K Nishikori (JPN) vs  P Cuevas (URU)
Not Before 6:00 PM
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA)
SATURDAY CHARLESTON SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:00 am
 K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs  B Mattek-Sands (USA) / M Shaughnessy (USA)
Not Before 1:00 PM
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs  J Jankovic (SRB)
 S Peng (CHN) vs E Vesnina (RUS)
S Peng (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN) vs S Mirza (IND) / E Vesnina (RUS) – After suitable rest
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