Blistering pace gives Karlovic record delight

Indian Wells: Ivo Karlovic`s eyes instantly light up and he flashes a broad smile while reflecting on the bragging rights he now holds as the fastest server of all time.

The six-foot 10-inch (2.08 metre) Croat eclipsed the previous record set by American Andy Roddick with a 251 kph (156 mph) blast during his country`s Davis Cup tie against Germany in Zagreb last week.

"It means a lot to me because that was one of the big goals in my career," Karlovic told Reuters while preparing for his third-round match at the Indian Wells ATP tournament.

"I always wanted it and I was really close before to Roddick but now I feel really good that I actually beat it."

Karlovic unleashed his record-breaking serve during the fourth set of his losing doubles rubber with partner Ivan Dodig against Philipp Petzschner and Christopher Kas.

"I just knew that it was really quick," the 32-year-old recalled of the moment. "And when I saw the (speed) clock I was like: `It`s the record, it`s the record.` I was so happy."

"And then I was thinking about it but my partner said to me: `Okay, you just think about it after the match. Let`s concentrate on this match.` So we did."

Karlovic, a winner of four titles on the ATP World Tour and the tallest player to break into the world`s top 100, beat the previous mark of 249.4 kph held by Roddick and felt he could serve even faster.

"If I played with a longer racket, as almost everybody else, maybe it would go even quicker," he said. "But I like my rackets right now so I won`t be changing them."

Asked to pinpoint the key factors in serving at record-breaking speed, Karlovic replied with a smile: "Muscles. I have been working a lot on my biceps," he grinned broadly before flexing his right bicep.

"Seriously though, it`s a combination of technique, coordination, a quick arm, which has to be loose, and also the leg has to be explosive. It is all of these components."

Karlovic, who reached a career-high 14th in the rankings three years ago, was delighted to be back on the circuit after his 2010 season was cut short by six months due to Achilles surgery.

"I was injured last year for almost eight months altogether and it was not easy to come back," said the Croat, who will meet Frenchman Gilles Simon in the third round at Indian Wells on Monday.

"But I have been working hard and all this work has finally paid off."

Karlovic made a good start to last year, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open and producing a win-loss record of 13-5 over the first two months before his season unravelled.

He ended up having surgery to repair his torn Achilles on July 22 after effectively wasting a couple of months prior to that trying to resolve the problem through "other methods".

"It was really frustrating because after getting to the fourth round of the Australian Open, I thought it was going to be my best year so far," he said.

"But then the injury came and I had to deal with that. Then I knew I would not be able to come back until the end of the year. Coming into this season, I almost didn`t have any expectations."

So far, so good for Karlovic who upset sixth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6 6-3 in the second round at Indian Wells and has already achieved his `fastest serve` goal.

Bureau Report


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