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Rochus cuts Karlovic down to size


LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Belgium's Olivier Rochus cut Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic back down to size to with a 7-6 6-7 6-4 quarterfinal victory at the Nottingham Open on Thursday.

On a day of upsets, defending champion Paradorn Srichaphan was shown the exit door 6-3 4-6 6-0 by rising French hope Richard Gasquet.

And second seed Thomas Johansson was forced to quit while trailing 6-3 1-0 against American Taylor Dent.

In a battle between the tallest and shortest players on the ATP tour, Rochus managed to gain the only break of the match in the third set to end Karlovic's challenge.

The Croatian, who is considered an outside bet for the Wimbledon title, had entered the contest as the favorite after reaching his first final at the Stella Artois Championships last week.

But the 2.08 meter Karlovic simply could not find a way to penetrate the serve of his 1.65 meter tall opponent and surrendered his title hopes.

"I didn't expect to win this match because he is one of the best players in the world on grass," Rochus admitted to reporters.

"But it doesn't matter whether I am playing a guy who is 10ft tall or one foot tall. I just play the ball and focus on trying to hold my serve... (and) I served well and played well from the baseline."

Sweden's Johansson faces a race to get fit in time for Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, after he was forced to abandon his contest against Dent with a right groin injury.

Despite his obvious discomfort, the 2002 Australian Open champion said he was hopeful of playing his first round match at the All England Club next Tuesday.

In Friday's semifinals, Rochus will play Max Miryni of Belarus, 7-6 6-4 victor over Dane Kenneth Carlsen, while Gasquet takes on Dent.


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