Top seed Blake ousted; Johansson to face Karlovic in final
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Top-seeded James Blake lost in the Stockholm Open semifinals Saturday, a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3) defeat to Sweden's Thomas Johansson that ended the two-time defending champion's 13-match winning streak in the tournament.
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Johansson, a former Australian Open champion who twice won the Stockholm title, will face Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in Sunday's final. Karlovic downed Tommy Haas of Germany 6-4, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
Johansson, who is not seeded, saved five match points in his last two service games, then beat the American in the tiebreaker before a boisterous sellout crowd at the Royal Tennis Hall. Johansson never trailed in the tiebreaker.
"It's not every day when you come back like that after five match points," Johansson said. "It felt really good. After saving all those match points to force the tiebreak I felt like I got a second chance."
This was Johansson's second straight victory over Blake in Sweden. He beat him in a Davis Cup singles match last month when the United States won the semifinals against Sweden.
Blake captured the opening set after breaking Johansson's serve to lead 3-1. In the second set, Johansson raced to a 5-0 lead after breaking Blake twice.
"It's never fun to lose with match points," said Blake, who stands 10th in the points chase to the Masters Cup in Shanghai, China, with three weeks of ATP play remaining. "I wish I'd done more with some second serves on match points. But I thought I played well."
Karlovic, seeded seventh, ended the match with four straight aces after he fell behind 0-40 in the last game.
"I played really well," Karlovic said. "I returned well when I needed it, and I also played good from the baseline."
He won his first two ATP titles this year at Houston and Nottingham, England, and earned a career-high ranking of No. 25 this week.
Karlovic, at 6-foot-10 the tallest player on the ATP tour, had 15 aces for a tour-leading 1,108 this year. Goran Ivanisevic set the record in 1996 with 1,477.
Karlovic broke Haas for the first time in the 10th game of the opening set when the German double-faulted. Haas struggled with his serve, double-faulting twice in the sixth game of the second set as Karlovic broke to lead 5-2.
The tournament is in its 39th year and is one of the tour's oldest indoor events.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press