Towering Croat Ivo Karlovic knocked out second-seeded Tomas Berdych 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) in a first-round upset yesterday at the Swiss Indoors Basel. It was the fourth straight time the No. 7-ranked Berdych has suffered an opening-round loss at Basel. The win continued the 6-foot-11 Karlovic’s remarkable recovery from viral meningitis which sidelined the 34-year old for over two months from late spring until early this summer. Karlovic won at Bogota in July in his second tournament back, sent James Blake into retirement winning a tense five-set battle at the U.S. Open in August, and last week reached the semifinals in Moscow. He has posted a 12-6 record since returning to the tour following his illness and now is 15-12 this year. As so often happens in Karlovic’s matches, tiebreakers determine the outcome. Berdych never lost his serve in the match, and never even faced a break point. In fact he won 108 points to 100 for the Croat. But he lost the two tiebreakers. Karlovic served 23 aces to 11 for the Czech, and improved to 18-11 in tie-breaks on the year. Berdych cashed his only break-point opportunity of the first set, but wasn’t able to finish off the one chance he had in the second set or any of the three he had in the third. Karlovic saved a match point with an ace at 30-40 in the 10th game of the deciding set, and then raced to a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker before closing out the victory in two hours and 21 minutes. Doctor Ivo improved to 3-2 against his Czech opponent. Karlovic plays big-serving Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the second round tomorrow.