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.
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
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
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
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
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.