Ivo Karlović of Croatia – a physically powerful and competitively dominant athlete – is among the best in the world.
Ivo Karlović plays competitive men’s tennis at the professional level, as he’s done for the past 17 years, amassing wins, cups, and trophies as one of the sport’s highest winning athletes. Karlović and his near 7-foot frame are coming off a strong 2016, with two tournament titles (Los Cabos and Newport). Now, he and the top-tier of tennis pros are preparing as the year’s first major tournament draws closer: the French Open. Does Ivo have a shot at winning? Let’s see how the rest of the men’s tennis elite will stack up this year at Roland-Garros.
The French Open is played on the iconic red clay courts of Roland-Garros Stadium. Here, tennis’ most tactical will slide their way to victory on one of the more unique playing surfaces on the ATP World Tour. To the victor: La Coupe des Mousquetaires (“The Musketeers’ Cup”), which honors four legendary French tennis pioneers.
If Rafael Nadal had been born French, the ATP may have approached Roland-Garros brass about a stadium name change. Rafa has won a record nine French Open titles. He won every single French Open tournament from 2005-14, save for 2009 when the great Roger Federer muddied his streak. Nadal has almost as many victories at Roland-Garros as French legends Borotra, Cochet, Brugnon, and Lacoste – combined. If the stadium keeps its name, Rafa should at least be etched in as the fifth “Mousquetaire”! While Nadal will always be in heavy contention to lift the cup on the clay courts, there are a pack of favored players waiting in the wings.
Bringing the Heat
As the red clay courts provide a competitive challenge to the pros, points won on service are invaluable. The aforementioned altitudinous Ivo Karlović sits tops the statistical list with 93% of service games won and 64.8% of first serve points won. Nipping at his gigantic heels is American pro John Isner at 92.4% and 69.6%, respectively. Speaking of skyscraping silhouettes, Isner at proper posture is 6 feet and 10 inches tall. Good golly.
A living legend and one of the greatest male athletes to ever intentionally swing a tennis racquet, ladies and gentleman: Roger Federer. With a brain-blistering 90 singles career tournament titles, including a 2009 Roland-Garros victory, Federer heads to Paris with the past year’s fourth best service statistics. His 90.3% of service games won and 62.7% of first serve points won will be the 35-year-old’s dearest friends this May.
Alternatively, a point won on a return is just as efficient on the soft, red, Parisian clay. Can you guess some of the heavyweights who historically dominate the fuzzy green ball in the return game?
Getting the Break
The top three returners over the past year? French Open legend Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray (world No. 1), and reigning Open champion Novak Djokovic.
What more can we say about Rafa Nadal? Well, over the past year, he has held the highest percentage of return games won (38.7%) and the highest percentage of first serve return points won (34.8%). Murray is less than a percentage point behind him (37.4% and 34.5%, respectively), and the soaring Serbian Djokovic sits in third in the return department.
The 2017 season is certainly heating up! With names like Raonic, Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal making repeated runs to tournament finals, today’s players are making a good argument for being one of the best generations in tennis history.
When we look at all-time game-winning efficiency, it’s clear that today’s greats stand among the top players in history. Roger Federer, a living legend, has played an incredible 16,434 games in his career. And he won just about 89 percent of them! That means he’s dominated 14,547 games – an unbelievable 4,753 more games than second-place game winner Nadal.
Rolling to Roland-Garros
As the nostalgia and drama of this year’s French Open unfold, tennis fans around the globe are excitedly awaiting their favorite matchups. Will we see a dominant serve versus a dominant return? Is the stage set for a showdown between Ivo Karlović’s huge serve and Rafael Nadal’s renowned return? Are we in store for a mythic encounter of Isner’s towering service shots battering the blustering backhand of return specialist Andy Murray? Breath bated, we wait.