Ivo Karlovic did his best to bludgeon Andy Murray off Centre Court - and nearly took a few line judges with him - but not even the man with the most potent serve in tennis could stop the 28-year-old Scot booking his place in the quarter-finals here for the eighth year in succession. Murray won 7-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and will next play Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, who beat Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Karlovic, who at 36 was the oldest man to reach the fourth round for 39 years, had hit 136 aces in his first three matches and added another 29 here, but in Murray he was facing the player with arguably the best returns in the sport.
Murray attacked the 6ft 11in Croatian’s second serves whenever he had the chance, though those opportunities were few and far between as Karlovic sent down a barrage of big serves at speeds of up to 136mph. Some were hit with such venom that even the line judges were not able to get out of the way.
While the serve is clearly his greatest weapon, Karlovic has others in his locker. The world No 25 has a potent forehand, volleys well and has a backhand slice which can be very effective on grass.
In Murray, however, Karlovic was facing one of the game’s most creative and intelligent players. Murray repeatedly lobbed his 6ft 11in opponent whenever he came too far forward and repeatedly passed him when he tried to dominate the net.
Murray played smartly on his own service games too. Knowing that Karlovic would go for broke when returning second serves, Murray slowed down his first serve. He put 74 per cent of his first serves in court, which is a significantly high figure.
The world No 3’s serving strategy was clear from the start as he found the court with 12 first serves in succession. He was taken to deuce only once on his serve in the first set, while Karlovic had to save five break points before the tie-break. The game when Karlovic served at 5-6 was remarkable. Murray won the first three points with lobs to create three set points before the Croatian served his way out of trouble to win the next five.
In the tie-break Karlovic saved two more set points, the first with a huge forehand return and the second with an ace, but when Murray served at 8-7 the Croatian hit his return beyond the baseline.
The first set had lasted 57 minutes, but the second took just 36. Murray broke in the opening game, saved his first break point in the next and went on to serve out for the set.
At that stage Murray looked firmly in control. In the seventh game of the third set he created two break points with a pair of glorious passing shot winners, only for Karlovic to serve his way out of trouble once again.
The Scot had not appeared to be in any sort of trouble, but everything changed when he served at 5-6 and 30-30. Murray had made only five unforced errors until that point but put a loose backhand in the net and then missed a forehand on set point after Karlovic’s deep return.
The fourth set went with serve until Murray broke in the seventh game. Karlovic put a poor backhand into the net at 30-30 and then hit a volley wide, though the Scot needed to go to a Hawk-Eye replay to win the point.
Karlovic saved a match point with a sensational half-volley when he served at 3-5 but Murray was not to be denied. In the next game Karlovic hit a return long on Murray’s second match point to complete his victory after three hours and three minutes.Reuse content