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Life begins again at 40 for tennis stars, says Karlovic

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Ivo Karlovic believes he will be less of an oddity in the years to come in terms of still playing top level tennis at the age of 40.

Karlovic

The big-serving Croat — who on Monday became the oldest player to play in the men’s singles since Australian Ken Rosewall in 1975 when he was also 40 — says players’ routines and lifestyles will allow them to carry on into middle age.

Karlovic achieved fame in 2003 at Wimbledon when in his first ever Grand Slam singles he knocked out then defending champion Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.

On Monday, he showed there was still life in his legs as he came through in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) over Italian Andrea Arnaboldi.

“Yes, definitely, because they can now,” said Karlovic when asked would there be other players who would play into their 40s.

“Nowadays everybody does a lot of work off the courts. In the 80s maybe it was not the case.

“Everyone is doing a lot of track and gym work to prolong their careers and are still winning at ages of 38-39. They are never going to stop!”

That could be bad news for the ‘NextGen’ set of players if the three giants of the sport, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic do carry on into their 40s.

Karlovic is unequivocal when asked which of the three does he consider the greatest.

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“Novak Djokovic for me, the way he has dominated since 2011 with a few ups and downs,” said Karlovic.

“My best record against the three is against him because I don’t think he likes my game but for me he is the best.”

Karlovic, who along with 37-year-old Feliciano Lopez made history at the French Open when their singles clash was the oldest ever match-up at the tournament, said he had considered retiring last year.

However, he had rediscovered his old vim when he made the Australian Open this year.

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“I was fed up with the travelling and even playing,” he said.

“However having gone back to the Challenger circuit after the US Open I found some motivation and I said to myself if I qualify for the Australian Open then I carry on if I don’t I will retire.”

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Karlovic, who has eight titles to his name, had his best run at Wimbledon in 2009 when he reached the quarter-finals although his memories of it are more about over-booked hotels than the feat itself.

“I remember the first day of the championships because we had to check out of our hotel,” he said.

“We only had reservations up to that day because everything was booked.

“I came here with all my luggage then I won my match and after that I had to ring all the hotels, it was a nightmare.

“This time I have reserved till October!” he laughed.

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