Flashback: 2003, Karlovic Aces Defending Champion Hewitt Out Of Wimbledon

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Bionic Poster
Today should have seen the opening match in the men's draw on Centre Court at Wimbledon. By tradition, the defending men's champion always opens proceedings. On this day back in 2003, a 24 year old unseeded qualifier ranked #203 in the world caused one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history when he became the only player in the Open Era to put out the defending champion in the opening match on Centre Court (only previous such occurrence had been in 1967). The unseeded qualifier was Ivo Karlovic and the defending champion was Lleyton Hewitt.

 

RS

Hall of Fame
Today should have seen the opening match in the men's draw on Centre Court at Wimbledon. By tradition, the defending men's champion always opens proceedings. On this day back in 2003, a 24 year old unseeded qualifier ranked #203 in the world caused one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history when he became the only player in the Open Era to put out the defending champion in the opening match on Centre Court (only previous such occurrence had been in 1967). The unseeded qualifier was Ivo Karlovic and the defending champion was Lleyton Hewitt.

Peak Hewitt ~ Peak Murray at Wimb easy.
 

Ocean Drive

Hall of Fame
Hewitt's greatest fail, one of the most perplexing losses of all time.
I wouldn't say it was perplexing. It was more shocking at the time, yes. In retrospect, not really hard to see how it happened. I do remember being astounded. He had some surprising losses around that time. Played well at the US Open and beat Federer in that epic later in the year in Davis Cup, so he was still Hewitt at the time.

Hewitt's loss to Alberto Martin could be seen in a similar way at the Australian Open 2002. Number 1, coming off the back of US Open and Masters Cup wins. He was recovering from chicken pox, though. His loss to El Aynaoui at the 2003 Australian Open was an epic. One of the best Australian Open matches.
 

Hitman

Legend
I remember this very well. This was during a time when Hewitt was dating Kim, and during RG, Hewitt went out in the third round I believe and instead off heading to Queens to warm up for his title defense, he decided to stay in Paris and cheer Clijsters onto her first slam win. Kim of course lost in the final, Hewitt was in tears at one point, he was really invested in his girlfriend winning the event.

A lot of rumors were floating around also that Hewitt chose to stay behind not only because he wanted to cheer her on, but because he was suffering burnout and wanted his girlfriend around him, but of course, he was also being there for her. He turns up to the grass undercooked and under prepared by his usual stands and draws Karlovic in the first round, who gave him no real timing on the ball...and we all saw what happened.
 

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Bionic Poster
I remember this very well. This was during a time when Hewitt was dating Kim, and during RG, Hewitt went out in the third round I believe and instead off heading to Queens to warm up for his title defense, he decided to stay in Paris and cheer Clijsters onto her first slam win. Kim of course lost in the final, Hewitt was in tears at one point, he was really invested in his girlfriend winning the event.

A lot of rumors were floating around also that Hewitt chose to stay behind not only because he wanted to cheer her on, but because he was suffering burnout and wanted his girlfriend around him, but of course, he was also being there for her. He turns up to the grass undercooked and under prepared by his usual stands and draws Karlovic in the first round, who gave him no real timing on the ball...and we all saw what happened.
Strange thing is that he easily cruised through the 1st set taking it 6-1 and then just seemed to fall apart.
 

Hitman

Legend
Strange thing is that he easily cruised through the 1st set taking it 6-1 and then just seemed to fall apart.
Yes he did, but the big man was relentless with the serves. I remember there was talk that Hewitt was looking under cooked after coming onto the grass too late, and that he looked vulnerable before the draw even came out. Many people were looking past him at Roddick as the top guy, after Roddick had won Queens defeating Agassi, who was also considered a top fav to win the title...Federer was flying a little under the radar.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Would rather lose to Karlovic on very fast grass than getting annihilated by Dimitrov.
Difference being that Murray at least made it to the quarter-finals and lost to a top seeded guy ranked #13 and in very good form at the time (had just come off a win at Queen's) and who went on to give Djokovic a tough match in the semis. Murray was still on the comeback trail that year from his back surgery but it was still a surprising loss.
 

ForehandCross

Professional
I remember this very well. This was during a time when Hewitt was dating Kim, and during RG, Hewitt went out in the third round I believe and instead off heading to Queens to warm up for his title defense, he decided to stay in Paris and cheer Clijsters onto her first slam win. Kim of course lost in the final, Hewitt was in tears at one point, he was really invested in his girlfriend winning the event.

A lot of rumors were floating around also that Hewitt chose to stay behind not only because he wanted to cheer her on, but because he was suffering burnout and wanted his girlfriend around him, but of course, he was also being there for her. He turns up to the grass undercooked and under prepared by his usual stands and draws Karlovic in the first round, who gave him no real timing on the ball...and we all saw what happened.
That's a story I never heard. Giving the next gen shenanigans run for their money.
 

fox

Rookie
Difference being that Murray at least made it to the quarter-finals and lost to a top seeded guy ranked #13 and in very good form at the time (had just come off a win at Queen's) and who went on to give Djokovic a tough match in the semis. Murray was still on the comeback trail that year from his back surgery but it was still a surprising loss.
OK I would be really happy to see grass speed and bounce comparison from 2004 and 2012 in the first place because sorry but I don’t see Murray, Nadal and Djokovic winning Wimbledon on that grass we had before 2005.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
OK I would be really happy to see grass speed and bounce comparison from 2004 and 2012 in the first place because sorry but I don’t see Murray, Nadal and Djokovic winning Wimbledon on that grass we had before 2005.
Good players will always adapt to the conditions of their time. They would have to.
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
I remember this very well. This was during a time when Hewitt was dating Kim, and during RG, Hewitt went out in the third round I believe and instead off heading to Queens to warm up for his title defense, he decided to stay in Paris and cheer Clijsters onto her first slam win. Kim of course lost in the final, Hewitt was in tears at one point, he was really invested in his girlfriend winning the event.

A lot of rumors were floating around also that Hewitt chose to stay behind not only because he wanted to cheer her on, but because he was suffering burnout and wanted his girlfriend around him, but of course, he was also being there for her. He turns up to the grass undercooked and under prepared by his usual stands and draws Karlovic in the first round, who gave him no real timing on the ball...and we all saw what happened.
This just makes me like Hewitt even more. What a story.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
I remember this very well. This was during a time when Hewitt was dating Kim, and during RG, Hewitt went out in the third round I believe and instead off heading to Queens to warm up for his title defense, he decided to stay in Paris and cheer Clijsters onto her first slam win. Kim of course lost in the final, Hewitt was in tears at one point, he was really invested in his girlfriend winning the event.

A lot of rumors were floating around also that Hewitt chose to stay behind not only because he wanted to cheer her on, but because he was suffering burnout and wanted his girlfriend around him, but of course, he was also being there for her. He turns up to the grass undercooked and under prepared by his usual stands and draws Karlovic in the first round, who gave him no real timing on the ball...and we all saw what happened.
This kind of makes me even more puzzled why they split up. For a while they seemed like the golden couple but I guess a Steffi-Andre type future was not in their stars.
 

Hitman

Legend
This kind of makes me even more puzzled why they split up. For a while they seemed like the golden couple but I guess a Steffi-Andre type future was not in their stars.
Yeah they were the IT couple of tennis at that point, because Hewitt was world number one at the time. I do believe they even got engaged, because I remember Kim once saying in an interview that she has been decorating the house that her and Lleyton lived in and felt like a housewife and was very happy about the whole situation. Then all of a sudden they split, and Hewitt very quickly ends up with his future wife. Can't really say what was going on there, but I do know they were very emotionally invested in the relationship, as I said here, Hewitt took the risk of not heading off to London and practice on the grass after he lost early in Paris, he stayed all the way until the end with Kim and I am certain that played a part in him being under prepared for the grass campaign. Just seemed off at the time.

Roddick and Federer both lost first round at RG that year also, but they immediately went to the grass, and tore it up, as evident by the respective runs on the surface that year.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Karlovic's first ever slam match, and still, 17 years on, his best known.
3 of his 8 titles have come on grass: 2007 Nottingham (b. Clément), 2008 Nottingham (b. Verdasco), 2016 Newport (b. Müller). He was also a 4 times finalist: 2005 Queen's (l. to Roddick), 2014 Newport (l. to Hewitt), 2015 Newport (l. to Ram), 2017 s'Hertogenbosch (l. to Müller).
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
I remember this very well. This was during a time when Hewitt was dating Kim, and during RG, Hewitt went out in the third round I believe and instead off heading to Queens to warm up for his title defense, he decided to stay in Paris and cheer Clijsters onto her first slam win. Kim of course lost in the final, Hewitt was in tears at one point, he was really invested in his girlfriend winning the event.

A lot of rumors were floating around also that Hewitt chose to stay behind not only because he wanted to cheer her on, but because he was suffering burnout and wanted his girlfriend around him, but of course, he was also being there for her. He turns up to the grass undercooked and under prepared by his usual stands and draws Karlovic in the first round, who gave him no real timing on the ball...and we all saw what happened.
That doesn’t sound that strange though if someone really loves his girlfriend and if it’s not some typical and rather random celebrity relationship.

Also I think his plan was to win RG and then he would have stayed at Paris anyway. But yes, changing to grass was difficult back then, so preparation surely was important. If better preparing really would have helped against Karlovic is another question though.
 

Hitman

Legend
That doesn’t sound that strange though if someone really loves his girlfriend and if it’s not some typical and rather random celebrity relationship.

Also I think his plan was to win RG and then he would have stayed at Paris anyway. But yes, changing to grass was difficult back then, so preparation surely was important. If better preparing really would have helped against Karlovic is another question though.
Yes, it was clear he loved her very much, because he was crying when she lost. He stayed in Paris for her.

Hewitt was gone by the third round, so there would be no reason to stay that long unless he did it to support Kim, especially when he knew his W title defense was coming up and others had already made the trip, The only guys that were in Paris late into the event were Ferrero, Coria, Costa, and Verkerk. And with only two weeks between clay and grass it was difficult, because he wasn't practising on any grass courts in Paris.
 

The Green Mile

Bionic Poster
"I saw him play last week and he didn't play anything special. I was pretty prepared to win,” Karlovic said after the match.

Not 04-07 vacuum era, but very close.
 
3 of his 8 titles have come on grass: 2007 Nottingham (b. Clément), 2008 Nottingham (b. Verdasco), 2016 Newport (b. Müller). He was also a 4 times finalist: 2005 Queen's (l. to Roddick), 2014 Newport (l. to Hewitt), 2015 Newport (l. to Ram), 2017 s'Hertogenbosch (l. to Müller).
Those are interesting stats. I still maintain that his best known match was the victory against Hewitt though.
 

Sabrina

Professional
Lleyton had a bad year by his standard in 2003. What really happened to him at that time? I don't know...

Can anyone explain it to me?
 

Sabrina

Professional
Burnt out. Was thinking about quitting for Aussie Rules Football, only really got up for Davis Cup that year.
I think he also had some disputes with the ATP that year. Mainly he complained about the number of compulsory events. Fast forward to 2004, he seemed determined to get back to the top again, but unfortunately Federer also peaking.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
I think Roddick played better in the SF/F though but still yeah.
He did.

I think he also had some disputes with the ATP that year. Mainly he complained about the number of compulsory events. Fast forward to 2004, he seemed determined to get back to the top again, but unfortunately Federer also peaking.
The two are related, burnt out so wanted to play less events - ATP didn't like it etc...And yeah 2004 he was very strong, think he won 90% of his matches outside of Federer, despite meeting him early in some events. I do think Hewitt was the second best player than year over Roddick tbh.
 

RS

Hall of Fame
He did.



The two are related, burnt out so wanted to play less events - ATP didn't like it etc...And yeah 2004 he was very strong, think he won 90% of his matches outside of Federer, despite meeting him early in some events. I do think Hewitt was the second best player than year over Roddick tbh.
Roddick only won 12 more points combined against a good but passive Murray and a good old Hewitt in a top 5 event in his career.
 
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NatF

Bionic Poster
Roddick only won 12 more points against a good but passive Murray and a old Hewitt in the best event of his career.
Don't think Murray was passive, at least not more than usual in his prime. Don't think that was Roddick's best event ever either.
 

RS

Hall of Fame
Don't think Murray was passive, at least not more than usual in his prime. Don't think that was Roddick's best event ever either.
At slams only USO 03 and AO 04 and Wim 04 could be said to be par for Roddick. That is 3.

Murray played like a feather compared to 2012ray at Wim/Oly agressiveness wise.
 
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