Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic became the oldest man to win a match at the French Open in 46 years on 28 May 2019 as he beat Spain’s fellow veteran Feliciano Lopez in a first-round duel. Karlovic, who turned 40 in February, won 7-6(4) 7-5 6-7(7) 7-5 in a match featuring players with a combined age of 77 — the oldest in a Grand Slam in the professional era.
He was the first man in his 40s to compete in a Grand Slam singles match for 27 years, but the evergreen Karlovic made light of his age to outlast left-hander Lopez. The last player to contest a Grand Slam singles match having turned 40 was American Jimmy Connors at the U.S. Open in 1992.
He became the oldest male player to win a Grand Slam match since Ken Rosewall, aged 44, did so at the 1978 Australian Open. “It means a lot. Even though it’s in the record books as the oldest one, at least it’s in the record books, so I like it,” Karlovic said of playing his fellow long-survivor.
Karlovic, ranked 94, had decided against playing any claycourt tournaments in the build-up to Roland Garros where he has never gone past the third round. He took the first set on a tiebreak but did not engineer a breakpoint on the Lopez serve until pouncing with his opponent 5-6 down in the second set.
Almost inevitably the third set went to another tiebreak and when Lopez missed a routine volley at 5-5 it handed Karlovic a match point, only for him to be denied by a lucky backhand return that left him floundering at the net.