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Thiem vs Karlovic tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Could 40-year-old Karlovic ace his way past seventh-seeded Thiem at Indian Wells?

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 13 Mar 2019
  • Dominic Thiem faces 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic in the fourth round of the Indian Wells Masters
  • Thiem vs Karlovic is live from Indian Wells on Wednesday at 6pm local/1am GMT
Dominic Thiem (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem takes on Ivo Karlovic, still a legitimate threat despite being in his 40s, for a place in the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells Masters.

With new coach Nicolas Massu in his corner, Dominic Thiem is trying to get his season going by making the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells Masters – but is he up to the challenge of facing down Ivo Karlovic on Wednesday?

It hasn’t been a great start to 2019 for seventh-seeded Thiem, who had already played 20 matches – and won 15 of them – by the start of Indian Wells 12 months ago. This year, he had only played nine – and won just three.

Dominic Thiem has had a frustrating start to 2019 (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
While many have said that Thiem should reduce his workload in terms of scheduling to play fewer tournaments – he went 54-20 in 2018 – he has only played two fewer tournaments in 2019 than he did I 2018 and the difference in number of matches played has mainly been due to his poor results. Defeated in the first round of Doha by Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Thiem had to retire in the second round of the Australian Open as he trailed wildcard Alexei Popyrin thanks to an extended five-set duel with Benoit Paire in the first round which ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he failed to defend his Buenos Aires title when he lost a tight match to Diego Schwartzman in a third-set tie-break in the semifinals, and crashed out of Rio de Janeiro, where he was the top seed, when he lost to Laslo Djere in the first round.

One thing that a poor Golden Swing did mean is that Thiem has had a lot of time to practice on hard courts ahead of Indian Wells. He’s also brought on board a new coach in the form of Nicolas Massu, specifically to help the French Open finalist work on transferring his success on clay courts to hard courts. 

So far it seems to be working – but Thiem hasn’t really been tested yet. A quarterfinalist at Indian Wells in 2017, Thiem opened his campaign with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Jordan Thompson before winning an eighth straight match against Gilles Simon in dominant style, 6-3, 6-1. It was a very solid performance, but then Thiem has never had much trouble beating Simon on hard courts, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that much.

Thiem did improve his late-season results dramatically from previous years in 2018, proving he can succeed on hard courts as well as clay as he won St Petersburg (just the second of his 11 hard-court titles to come on hard courts), reached the quarterfinals of the US Open and pushed Rafael Nadal very hard there, made the semifinals of the Paris Masters and actually won a match at the ATP Finals. And the conditions at Indian Wells, where the courts feel like they’re playing particularly slow and high-bouncing this year, should be perfect for him.

Ivo Karlovic should pose a very, very different test for Thiem than Thompson and Simon. 

Ivo Karlovic (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Karlovic, who recently turned 40, became the oldest man to win a Masters 1000 Series match since 1990 when he beat Matthew Ebden in two tie-break sets in the first round. The Croatian seemed not too far from retirement last year when he dropped out of the top 100 for the first time since 2013, but the former world no. 14 reaped good results from a drop down to Challenger level, winning the title in Calgary and finishing runner-up in Monterrey (to David Ferrer, another veteran) to start the year at exactly world no. 100. 

And it’s been a good year so far for Karlovic. He started it by finishing runner-up to Kevin Anderson at the Maharashtra Open, the 19th ATP Tour-level final of his career, and although he only won one of his next four matches, he pushed Kei Nishikori to the Japanese player’s outer limits of endurance at the Australian Open and he has been on a great run at Indian Wells. Karlovic, a quarterfinalist at this same event in 2011, followed up his win over Ebden by upsetting 11th seed Borna Coric 6-4, 7-6(2) and then ended the run of qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who himself had beaten 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-3, 7-6(3) to reach the round of 16.

Karlovic is trying to reach the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 Series event for the fifth time in his career, and to do so by beating a member of the top 10 – something he last did in 2017 – would be a great result and not just for a 40-year-old with, as he joked the other day, ‘issues with my knee, shoulder, back, elbow. I can go on.’

This will be the first meeting between Thiem and Karlovic, and I’m quite interested to see how it plays out. One would think that the conditions at Indian Wells favour the Austrian, but Karlovic obviously hasn’t been having any problems getting plenty of impact out of his giant serve on these courts. Thiem has struggled against big servers in the past – he has a poor record against Kevin Anderson, for example – and is 102-68 in tie-breaks. Karlovic has served 54 aces in his three matches so far at Indian Wells and he has, really, nothing to lose compared to the pressure on Thiem’s shoulders – could we see the big man authoring a big upset?

Thiem vs Karlovic Indian Wells Masters tennis is live from Indian Wells on Wednesday at 6pm local/1am GMT

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Thiem vs Karlovic tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Could 40-year-old Karlovic ace his way past seventh-seeded Thiem at Indian Wells?

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