Wimbledon: Murray warned over Karlovic's cannonball serve
Listen to some observers and you would think that Ivo Karlovic, Andy Murray's second-round opponent here this afternoon, had only one weapon in his arsenal. The 6ft 10in Croatian does have a huge serve – he held the world record at 156mph until the Australian Sam Groth launched a 163mph bombshell last month – but Goran Ivanisevic warned yesterday that it would be wrong to dismiss his fellow countryman as a one-shot wonder.
"He's improved a lot," Ivanisevic said of the world No 59. "He moves well for his height. He has a huge forehand. He has this slice which is very dangerous and doesn't bounce."
Nevertheless, the 2001 Wimbledon champion agreed that it was Karlovic's cannonball serve that made him a threat to anyone, especially on grass.
"He doesn't give you any rhythm," Ivanisevic said. "For half an hour you don't have one rally, you don't touch the ball and then all of a sudden you have to play tennis. So it's not easy. You have to be very focused on every single point.
"You just have to pray that he's not going to serve bombs. You have to wait and take every chance that he gives you because there's no tennis there. It's not going to be a beautiful match."
Murray, nevertheless, is one of the best returners in the game and he will have been buoyed by his performance in the opening round against Nikolay Davydenko. He broke the Russian's serve – admittedly not a patch on Karlovic's – six times in a straight-sets win.
"You never know when you step on to the court how you're going to play," Murray said. "The most important thing is that you believe that no matter what the situation is that you can win the match. I got ahead [against Davydenko] and just kept on going. I was in the zone and hitting the ball really well and he wasn't having any chances. The momentum was with me the whole match.
"I don't expect the same thing to happen [against Karlovic]. I expect a different match. There will probably be some ups and downs and there will be times when I don't touch the ball for a couple of games. I'm not necessarily going to be in a rhythm, but I have to make sure that mentally I'm there for every single point because he can miss a couple of easy volleys and he might serve a double fault.
"It's never that comfortable playing against guys like that. He's the tallest guy on the tour. He plays a grass-court game. He likes to come to the net. Guys like Milos Raonic or Kevin Anderson play from the back of the court. He's a bit different. It's challenging because it's not about the way you hit the ball against them a lot of the time. It can be down to a couple of passing shots, a couple of reflex shots and also your focus."
Murray will need to be at his lightning-quick best against 33-year-old Karlovic, who completed a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 victory over Israel's Dudi Sela yesterday. The Scot said he had developed his fast reactions through playing a variety of sports when he was a child.
"The anticipation comes from playing a lot of different sports and getting that co-ordination from a young age," he said. "I played a load of racket sports from table tennis to squash to badminton, obviously tennis. That probably helped."
Had video games played a part in improving his reactions? "I still play video games quite a lot," Murray said, "but who knows? I have no idea whether it was that or not." Which other players does Murray play video games with? "I play against Rafa [Nadal] and Juan Monaco. David Ferrer plays a lot and I've watched him, but I have not played against him. Most of the tennis players are going to be very good at those sort of things."