An interesting first round match-up takes place on Monday afternoon at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, as towering Croat Ivo Karlovic clashes with young American Jack Sock for the second time this season. Karlovic leads the head-to-head series 2-0, with the most recent victory taking place a few months back in Memphis.
World No. 52 Ivo Karlovic has been playing some consistent tennis this year, having only lost in the opening round of one event so far this season (Australian Open). He holds an 11-8 record in 2014, having reached the finals in Memphis, before losing to Kei Nishikori, as well a quarter-final appearance in Acapulco. He is coming off a second round exit at the hands of Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka at Miami Masters and will be looking to successfully rebound with a strong showing in Houston.
World No. 92 Jack Sock is coming off a second round appearance at the Miami Masters, which he achieved as a qualifier. He holds a 6-6 record this season, with his best performances being a quarter-final showing in Auckland and a similar stage in the Memphis Open, where he lost to the man he is scheduled to face on Monday afternoon.
This marks the third time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Karlovic leading the series 2-0. The Croat won the first encounter 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-2 last year in Indian Wells and followed up with a 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-3 victory earlier this season in the Memphis quarter-final round. He will likely extend that streak to 3 consecutive wins, and if the trend continues, it will be another close three set battle.
Prediction: Ivo Karlovic in Three Sets