BERLIN (Reuters) - Croatian Ivo Karlovic hit a record 45 aces en route to beating third seed Tomas Berdych at the Halle Open on Friday to set up a semi-final against seven-times champion Roger Federer.
Big-serving Karlovic, standing at 2.11 metres tall, improved the record for a three-set ATP tour match by one ace, winning 7-5 6-7(8) 6-3 against the Czech on the quick grass court in the Wimbledon warm-up event.
“Berdych returns quite well really,” the Croatian world number 27, told reporters. “That’s why lots of aces are so important.”
Predictably, the 36-year-old Karlovic clinched victory with an ace.
”I didn’t really know how many aces I’d done. But when I heard it was 45 I knew that’s a new record. Hitting aces helps a lot, you can avoid the volleys. I was surprised when I was told on court after the match how many aces I hit.
“Hopefully I can continue like that in the semi-final.”
Asked whether a spot in the last four or the record was more important he said: “That’s difficult to say. The semi-final is always good, but only lasts a week. The record may hold for a long, long time.”
Top seed Federer stayed on track for a title defence with a trouble-free 6-0 7-6(1) victory over German Florian Mayer with the Swiss needing just 19 minutes to race through the first set.
World number five Kei Nishikori was made to work much harder, needing three sets to tame Jerzy Janowicz.
The Pole eventually ran out of steam in the third set after matching Nishikori’s precision with his power over two sets, with the Japanese earning a 6-4 5-7 6-3 victory.
Second seed Nishikori will meet Andreas Seppi, who advanced when Gael Monfils retired injured.
Seppi was leading 6-1 1-0 when the Frenchman, who had crashed into a side wall early in the first set, called it quits.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar