Ivo Karlovic v James Blake
Marin Cilic v Mardy Fish
Ivo Karlovic/Lovro Zovko v Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan
Marin Cilic v James Blake
Ivo Karlovic v Mardy Fish
With all four singles genuinely 50-50 prospects, this could be a tie that goes to the final rubber on Sunday night.
Karlovic has beaten Blake three times in the five matches they’ve contested, but Blake beat Karlovic on clay in Madrid less than two months ago, and with Karlovic’s big serve, the match could well be decided on a single error or moment of brilliance in a tiebreak. Cilic and Fish have played just once, but that was a tour final that went to a final set.
Even the doubles is not totally clear-cut. Obviously the Bryans, the world’s No. 2 pair and Wimbledon runners-up last Saturday, start favourites, but Karlovic and Zovko have played a reasonable amount together, and the Bryans remember well the match at the 2002 US Open when Zovko and his partner Aleksandar Kitinov held match points against the twins, only to lose 75 in the final set.
“Ivo and I grew up on clay” – Cilic
What makes this tie particularly interesting is that clay is not the preferred surface of any of the singles players. And while adjusting from clay to grass is part of the annual tennis circuit, going from grass to clay is much less common. All four singles players were involved at Wimbledon, Karlovic reaching the singles quarterfinals and Blake and Fish coming within two points of reaching the doubles final before losing to the eventual champions Nestor/Zimonjic.
But Cilic denies the choice of surface was a negative one to thwart the Americans. “Ivo and I grew up on clay,” he says, “and even though we’re quite tall, we move well and find our positions well on the court, so it’s a good surface for us to play the US team, and hopefully we can take advantage.”
With the small coastal town of Porec enjoying glorious sunshine at the height of the summer tourist season, play begins relatively late – at four o’clock local time.