South African Kevin Anderson beat Croatian Ivo Karlovic in a thrilling three-set final at the 2019 edition of the Pune Open final in Maharashtra.
The 32-year-old beat his opponent in three tie-breakers, winning 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 to claim the seventh title of his career and in so doing went one better than last year, when he also reached the final, but lost to Frenchman Giles Simon in straight sets.
It was an even contest between the two players who opened their 2019 campaign’s in Pune, as all three sets went to the distance of a tie-break and with both men holding their service games without either losing a game.
Anderson went into the tournament as the number one seed and a huge favourite and he played like it all week, including gaining a measure of revenge over Gilles Simon in the semi-final in straight sets.
The key moment in the first set was an unforced error from Karlovic, when he hit a forehand long and it allowed Anderson to go up 4-2 in the tie-break and he closed out the set when the Croatian hit a double fault into the net.
The second set took on a familiar look as the first, as both player’s continued to hold serve with a combination of aces, their opponent unable to return and quickly achieved winners, including volleys.
The match headed to the tie-break, and this time it was 39-year-old Karlovic that attained the upper hand, with consecutive winners, and he led 6-2, he hit a powerful forehand that Anderson could not get back over the net, and the match was tied at one set apiece.
The third was a grind as both men mostly employed serve & volley tactics as the match was kept on serve as there was a number of aces and service winners, and the final headed to a deciding third set tie-break to crown a champion.
Karlovic raced into a 5-2 lead in the breaker, but Anderson fought back with a string of passing shots when the Zagreb born player was at the net to bring it back to 5-5.
Anderson eventually earned himself a match point on his serve, and duly took advantage with an ace to close out the set, match and championship.
Karlovic smashed 36 aces to Anderson’s 21 in a match of the big servers, but the biggest difference between the players was the second serve percentage, as Anderson won 79% of his to just 52% for Karlovic.