In his first match as a tournament’s first seed in his career, 2019 finalist Bublik withstood 21 aces from the big-serving Karlovic, who lifted the Newport trophy in 2016. He broke serve twice and served up 22 aces of his own en route to the quarter-finals.
“Ivo is a great player and there is not much to say about this match other than it was server versus server,” Bublik said. “In the first set, I got a bit lucky and he gave me two double faults, in the second set I gave him [four] and he gave up five in the third. I’m happy to get through and I’m happy to be in the quarter-finals.”
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The No. 37 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings reached his first tour-level final two years ago here in Newport. Bublik looked as comfortable as ever on the stadium court, going toe-to-toe with the 6’11” Karlovic through a tightly contested, 50-minute opening set.
The 42-year-old fought off two break points to take them into a tie-break but, under pressure from Bublik, he surrendered the first set with just his second double fault of the match. Karlovic brushed it off in the second set, and won 94 per cent (15/16) of points behind his big first serve to level the score.
But Bublik, who kept Karlovic on his toes throughout the contest with his variety and signature underarm serves, raised his level in the decider. He only dropped one point behind his serve, and reeled off the last five games of the match before sealing the victory with his 22nd ace.
Through to his fifth quarter-final of the season, Bublik will next face Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung, who stunned fifth seed Tennys Sandgren in a 6-2, 6-2 rout. Jung saved all six of the break points he faced and won 82 per cent (32/39) of points behind his first serve to advance.
Seventh seed Jordan Thompson and eighth seed Kevin Anderson also made their way into the Newport quarter-finals in straight sets. Thompson raced past Yuichi Sugita at the expense of just two games, 6-0, 6-2. He will await the winner of second seed Sam Querrey and Maxime Cressy, who is contesting his first ATP Tour main draw on grass this week.
Anderson took down Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner in a close contest, needing an hour and 33 minutes to secure a 7-5, 7-6(3) victory. Anderson served up 18 aces and did not face a break point as he won 94 per cent (31/33) of points behind his first serve. He will next face Jack Sock, who toppled third seed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-3 in his first tour-level main draw since last year’s Roland Garros.