Federer’s wonder lob downs Karlovic

Swiss great Roger Federer conjured a wonder lob over Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic Friday to reach the Australian Open fourth round and stay on course for his first major title in two years.

Federer's wonder lob downs Karlovic
Marianne Bevis (File)

The instinctive shot, when facing set point in the first-set tiebreak, helped Federer take the first set before he produced the match’s first break in the second set and ran out a 7-6 (8/6), 7-5, 6-3 winner.

Afterwards, 6ft 10ins (2.08m) Croatian Karlovic, the tour’s tallest player and with a world-record serve, said Federer had only a one in 100 chance to win the point after he dropped the ball close to the net, with the Swiss stranded.

But Federer, trailing 5-6 in the tiebreak, scrambled in and flipped a vertical lob over the towering Croatian, who could only parry it into his own court.

“Running up there, I didn’t know what to do any more. Probably left and right, going to go too slow and he’s going to slam it home,” Federer recalled.

“Let me try the lob, even though that’s not what you’re supposed to do against him. I got sort of the angle right and was able maybe to surprise him, we’re that close to each other, so it’s hard to kind of react quick.”

Karlovic was left shaking his head at the lob, which turned out to be the turning point in his 10th loss to the 16-time grand slam winner.

“I don’t know. It’s like one in a hundred that I’m going to lose that point. I don’t know. It was really unlucky, you know,” he said.

“I didn’t really expect him to do that, but I was there. You know, I just, miscalculated (the) jump. It was really unlucky.

“Then, you know, if I would have won that, everything would have been different. But that is life, you know. Tennis, that’s how it is.”

The first set had gone with serve and Federer was unable to make inroads on the Karlovic delivery until the 12th game of the second set, when the rattled Croatian volleyed long to hand over the first break of the match.

And Federer broke early in the third set before closing it out in 2hr 17min to set up a fourth-round clash with either Bernard Tomic of Australia or Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.

“It’s been a good match for me and a good last week or so,” said Federer, who suffered back spasms during this month’s Qatar Open.

“No back issues at all today. I didn’t even think about it, to be honest. So it was a good day at the office.”

Federer, 30, who came into the clash with a 9-1 head-to-head record against his 57th-ranked opponent, is bidding to become only the second man to win five Australian Open singles titles, after Roy Emerson.

The third seed has been without a grand slam title since he lifted the Australian Open in 2010.

Karlovic’s record serve, at a Davis Cup tie in 2011, was measured at 251 kilometres per hour.  

Federer finished 2011 on a 17-match winning streak after winning titles in Basel, Paris and the ATP World Tour Finals.

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IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.