Philipp Kohlschreiber received a milestone win in Halle, and in doing so, advanced to the quarterfinal after toppling big server Ivo Karlovic in straight sets. Kohlschreiber was down a set after his Croatian opponent used his massive serve to take the lead in a tie-break. However, it was the man playing in front of his home crowd that walked away with a 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-5 victory.
The 32-year-old Kohlschreiber came into the match trailing countryman Michael Stich for third place among German players for all-time ATP wins. In order to move into the top three, Kohlschreiber needed to topple the 28th-ranked man in the world. Yet, his match against Karlovic got off to an auspicious start.
The two men began the first set in a duel, daring one another to blink first. Neither man did. Karlovic fired ace upon ace against the scrambling Kohlschreiber. Every time the big Croation found himself in trouble, he used his big 6'11'' frame to pound the grass court and wiggle free of any binds Kohlschreiber had placed him in.
Kohlschreiber, for his part, was just as game. He used his heavy forehand while defending his service games to great effect. The much slower Karlovic had trouble getting to balls that were not immediately within his massive wingspan. The set needed to be decided by a tie-break.
Many players fear tiebreaks with the big-serving Karlovic because his heavy ground strokes and powerful serve allow him to easily hold serve better than his opponents in breaks. This was no different. The Croation sailed past Kohlschreiber to take the first set 7-6(7).
Kohlschreiber, however, was amongst his countrymen, and the boisterous crowd seemed to be fully backing him. He took that enthusiasm into the second set with renewed vigor.
The set appeared to be headed towards another tie-break, but Kohlschreiber was finally able to get the better of his Croatian opponent in the ninth game of the set. The crowd leapt to its feet as the German consolidated his break in the net game to hold and win the set.
After failing to break Karlovic in the first game of the following set, Kohlschreiber would be forced to hold throughout, while doing all he could to withstand the powerful serves of "Dr. Ivo," as the big Croatian is often called. Much like the previous set, Karlovic would be broken yet again and watch helplessly as Kohlschreiber consolidated, this time, his hold won him the match.
He received much adoration from the home crowd. Kohlschreiber now is in third place for most wins on the ATP Tour by a German player. His 385 wins trail only Boris Becker (713) and Tommy Haas (563). Smiling in appreciation of the win, Kohlschreiber joked that he would probably never catch those men but he wanted to keep winning as many matches as possible.
The German now moves on to the quarterfinal to face friend and doubles teammate Dominic Thiem, who recently beat him in the Stuttgart final to win the Mercedes Cup.
Kohlschreiber surely hopes he can withstand the serve-and-volley technique better than he did the pure serves of Karlovic. The Croatian fired 26 aces in the match.