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  • Stepanek, Karlovic take the court at Zagreb Indoors

    1/31/11 6:42 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Stepanek, Karlovic take the court at Zagreb Indoors Radek Stepanek kicks off his Zagreb campaign on Tuesday against Stefan Koubek. Ivo Karlovic will be featured during the night session, as he takes on Daniel Brands.

    Radek Stepanek vs. (Q) Stefan Koubek

    Twelve years after their first ATP encounter, Stepanek and Koubek will be doing battle for the fourth time in their careers when they meet in the first round of the PBZ Zagreb Indoors on Tuesday. Their first two clashes both ended in third-set tiebreakers, with Koubek prevailing at the 1999 St. Poelten event before Stepanek got revenge three years later in Vienna. Their most recent title came two seasons ago in Memphis, where Stepanek eased to a 6-2, 6-4 win.

    Both players are now well into their thirties; Koubek is one of the oldest players on tour at 34 years old and Stepanek is not far behind at 32. Koubek is struggling at No. 173 in the world and he is making his ATP main-draw debut in 2011 after qualifying over the weekend. Stepanek has dealt with some physical issues and he is down at No. 63 in the rankings, but he reached the Brisbane semifinals and advanced one round at the Australian Open. Look for Stepanek to cruise in straight sets.

    Daniel Brands vs. Ivo Karlovic

    Brands and Karlovic will be meeting for the second time in their careers when the two big servers go head-to-head on Tuesday in Zagreb. Not surprisingly, their only previous encounter went to a pair of tiebreakers and featured zero break points. Karlovic won 7-6(8), 7-6(6) in last year's Delray Beach second round. He did not face a single break point, while Brands had to save just one.

    Karlovic finds himself outside the Top 100 due to foot injury that killed his 2010 campaign, but he appears to be rounding into form. The 6'10'' Croat reached the Doha quarterfinals in the first week of the season and fell to countryman Ivan Dodig in five sets at the Aussie Open. Brands, a 6'5'' German, registers at 79th in the world and is 0-2 so far this year. Karlovic will have the crowd behind him, so he should get the job done in three competitive sets.

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