PARIS (Reuters) – Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic became the first man in his 40s to compete in a Grand Slam singles match for 27 years when he beat fellow veteran Feliciano Lopez at Roland Garros on Tuesday.
Karlovic, who turned 40 in February, won 7-6(4) 7-5 6-7(7) 7-5 against the 37-year-old Spaniard in the oldest French Open men’s match-up in terms of combined ages in the professional era.
The last player to contest a Grand Slam singles match having turned 40 was American Jimmy Connors at the U.S. Open in 1992.
Karlovic, well used to setting records for longevity everywhere he travels, is also the oldest man to compete at the French Open since 41-year-old Istvan Gulyas in 1973.
It was a typical Karlovic match with the 2.11 meter tall Croat dominating his service games.
He took the opening set on a tiebreak but did not engineer a break point on the Lopez serve until pouncing with his opponent 5-6 down in the second set.
Almost inevitably the third set went to a tiebreak and when Lopez missed a routine volley at 5-5 it handed Karlovic a match point, only for him to be denied by a lucky backhand return that left him flat-footed at the net.
A fifth set loomed when Lopez led 5-2 in the fourth set but Karlovic rattled off five straight games to move through.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge