No. 2 seed James Blake lost to Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (4), 6-7 (11), 4-6 in the second round of the SAP Open Thursday.
Dr. Ivo, ranked 103rd in the world, fired 29 aces in the match. He faced down Blake serving for the match and then fought off five match points in the second set breaker before taking it 13-11.
In the final set, the 6-foot-10 Gentle Giant hit 12 aces to frustrate James. Karlovic avenged his lost to Blake just over a year ago at The Tennis Channel Open. Karlovic will play fifth-seeded American Mardy Fish, who defeated Sam Warburg 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.
James, to his credit, takes responsiblity for letting this one slip away. "I was [serving for the match] up 5-3, 30-love, and I have no one to blame for that but myself. I made some errors and didn't make some first serve.
"His serve isn't something you're used to dealing with, especially the angle. You see a lot of big serves from Andy [Roddick], [Ivan] Ljubicic and [Mario] Ancic, but you don't see anyone coming from 6'10". It's difficult, but I got on it well enough to win the first set breaker and get that one break. I really had it on my racquet. It's my fault."
Often, Blake will say that he played well but his opponent just outplayed him, even if that's not how the match unfolded. Minor as it might seem, I see this admission as a step in the right direction and it could make a difference for Blake down the road.
Americans Andy Roddick and Vince Spadea also advanced to the last eight, along with Marat Safin, Andy Murray, Benjamin Becker, and Hyung-Taik Lee.