Johansson Stops Blake, Dr. Ivo Awaits in Stockholm Final

Posted on October 14, 2007

Upset artists Thomas Johansson and Ivo Karlovic will do battle Sunday for the If Stockholm Open title, after both pulled off surprises in Saturday’s semifinals, taking out the tournament’s two highest seeds.

Johansson is playing his 14th ATP final, going 9-4 in his first 13. He is 2-1 in finals on indoor hardcourts, all three of those coming at this event (finishing runner-up in 1998 then winning titles in 2000 and 2004).

Prior to this week, Johansson had only made one quarterfinal this year at Zagreb (falling to Ivan Ljubicic).

Johansson has now reached at least one ATP final in 10 of the last 11 seasons (2003 is the exception).

With his four wins this week, including third set tie-break wins over Mario Ancic in the quarterfinals and top seed James Blake in the semifinals (saving five match points), Johansson is now 24-11 in Stockholm, winning two of his nine ATP titles here (in 2000 and 2004, beating former No. 1s Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Andre Agassi in those finals). He also reached another final in 1998 (falling to Todd Martin in three sets).

With his win over World No. 7 Blake, Johansson improved to 23-60 lifetime in completed matches against Top 10 players, and is now 5-3 at this event. He also evened his head-to-head against Blake to 2-2. That win also ruined Blake’s perfect record here (the American was 13-0 here heading into the semifinals).

Karlovic is playing his fifth ATP final, having reached just one prior to this year (finishing runner-up at Queen’s Club in 2005) and now moving into his fourth of the year, having won his first two ATP singles titles at Houston (clay) and Nottingham (grass) and finishing runner-up at San Jose (indoor hardcourts).

Karlovic has never been ranked higher than now at No. 25. He started the year at No. 98 and dipped out of the Top 100 for eight weeks in the spring, but has shot up, passing his previous career-high of No. 48.

With his three wins this week (he received a walkover from flu-ridden wild card Joachim Johansson in the second round and upset No. 4 seed Tommy Haas in the semifinals), Karlovic has improved to 3-1 lifetime in Stockholm, having fallen first round a year ago in his only previous attempt (to Ancic in straight sets).

Karlovic has hit 1,108 aces so far this year, the third-highest tally in ATP history; Goran Ivanesvic holds the No. 1 (1,477) and No. 2 (1,169) tallies of all time, set in 1996 and 1994, respectively.

Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi face Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in Sunday’s doubles final.

Bjorkman and Mirnyi have won 10 ATP doubles titles together: two Grand Slams (Roland Garros in 2005 and 2006), a Tennis Masters Cup (2006), six ATP Masters Series titles (Miami, Hamburg and Cincinnati in 2005 and Miami, Monte-Carlo and Cincinnati in 2006) and finally Doha (2006). But they have only been to one final so far this year, finishing runners-up at the Australian Open (to the Bryan brothers).

Clement and Llodra have won five ATP doubles titles together, most notably Wimbledon earlier this year. Their other titles came at St. Petersburg in 2004, AMS Paris last year and Marseille and Metz this year. (ATP Digital Services)