Friday, September 02, 2005

Ivo the Entertainer

After watching Ivo Karlovic take on Andre Agassi at the US Open I'm compelled to state that Ivo is the most entertaining player currently on the professional tennis circuit. The reason I find him so fun to watch is that every match you get an answer to the question "What would happen if I played (insert pro player here) but was given an unreturnable bomb of a serve". Every time I watch him play I feel as though I'm watching a decent club player's game attached to the world's most formidable service delivery. This makes for highly entertaining matchups like the other night where you have Agassi, a legend in the sport trying to figure out how to get his racquet on the ball often enough to put a set together against a guy he would otherwise kill from the baseline. You just know Ivo is holding his breath once that serve is returned and Agassi is like "phew ok, go fetch that topspin winner I'm now going to hit will you?". For Ivo, the problem with bringing a bazooka to a gun fight is that it takes longer to reload and once Agassi gets the serve back he can pepper the court with full-automatic gunfire until Ivo duffs one or just can't get there in time. But this is what makes it so fun! It's really interesting because even though people would say that this type of power serving is ruining the game there are some real strategic decisions going on. When Agassi is serving he has got to be careful not to just push the ball and wait for errors in case Ivo ends up busting a few lucky balls and gets the break. For Ivo he's got to make sure he doesn't duff too many sitters or other easy balls and cough up a break. Even though they are totally different in every respect they both have the same fundamental problem i.e. they cannot break serve. So the whole match is really tight and as usual goes down to a highwire act in the tiebreak. If you want more insight into this have a read of Professor Agassi's post match interview which you can find here . I happen to like tiebreaks because this means the match is close and both players are focussed on the task at hand instead of either thinking they've got it in the bag or are out of the set and waiting for the next, especially in a five setter. Anyway if you are a tennis fan and into the X's and O's of matches an Ivo match never fails to deliver the entertainment. I hope we see more of him in the latter rounds of the tournaments, it's boring watching Federer play nerf tennis with Roddick or Hewitt these days.

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