© Mutua Madrid Open

Ivo Karlovic, winless in Madrid for seven years, held his nerve on Tuesday against Roberto Bautista Agut.

Ace King Karlovic Saves 4 M.P. In Madrid Epic

Spaniards experience mixed fortunes on day three

Ivo Karlovic broke a five-match losing streak at the Mutua Madrid Open in spectacular fashion on Tuesday. The Croatian fired down 35 aces and saved four match points to beat Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-6(4), 6-7(9), 7-6(7) in just over three hours for a place in the second round.

In a first-time meeting, featuring no service breaks, Karlovic failed to convert match point opportunities when he led by a set and 5-4, 40/0, then at 7/6 and 9/8 in the tie-break, and again at 6/5 in the deciding set tie-break. Bautista Agut missed out on four match point chances on Karlovic’s serve when leading 5-4 (Ad) and 6-5 (15/40) and at 7/6 in the deciding set tie-break.

Karlovic, who will next face No. 12 seed Grigor Dimitrov after his first win in Madrid since 2010, won 78 per cent of his first service points and saved seven break points. Bautista Agut struck six aces, won 85 per cent of his first service points and saved all four break points he faced.

"I knew that today's match was going to be very tough, that the score was going to be very tight," said Bautista Agut. "I did what I could. I don't think I deserved to lose this match. Well, right now, I'm a little bit upset. I think it's a normal feeling. I'm a little bit angry, too, because of the score... It's true that it was a crazy match with a lot of ups and downs. There were a lot of break points. I even had a few match points, but I wasn't able to touch the ball because it was an ace... The match, as I said, was very tight. It was just a coin toss. I think it fell to his side this time."

Ninth seed David Goffin became the first player to book his spot in the third round when he struck nine aces past Florian Mayer in a 7-6(3), 6-0 win over 75 minutes. He will now play fifth seed Milos Raonic, last week’s Istanbul finalist, or Estoril runner-up Gilles Muller, who knocked out Tommy Haas 6-4, 7-6(7).

Elsewhere, in a match between two Spaniards, Nicolas Almagro improved to 7-1 lifetime against fellow wild card Tommy Robredo in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory that set up a second-round meeting with second seed and two-time former champion Novak Djokovic.

Diego Schwartzman, a semi-finalist last week in Istanbul (l. to Cilic), overcame Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-3 in 70 minutes. He goes on to face 2014 finalist and sixth seed Kei Nishikori.

Another in-form Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta, who lifted his third ATP World Tour title at the Millennium Estoril Open on Sunday, made an early exit at the hands of Benoit Paire, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday. Paire saved nine of 10 break points for his 15th match win of the year, 6-3, 6-4 in 75 minutes.

"It was very difficult to get into the game," said Carreno Busta. "Perhaps there were some moments where I played quite well, but I didn't feel comfortable in any part of the match. We have to move on. I think more than feeling tired from last week, maybe I feel a little bit sore from last week. It was a very hard week, last week. I came here a little bit sore."

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