Karlovic makes history in Pune, Djokovic bows out

Nadal reacts to ‘physically and mentally’ tough Monte Carlo Masters quarter-final win over Pella

History was made at the Maharashtra Open as Ivo Karlovic beat Steve Darcis, the Croatian becoming the oldest ATP finalist since 1977.

Ivo Karlovic made history at the Maharashtra Open on Friday, but Novak Djokovic’s impressive run at the Qatar Open came to an end.

Karlovic – who turns 40 on February 28 – prevailed in the battle of the veterans with Steve Darcis in Pune, the Croatian completing a 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-3 victory to become the oldest ATP finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1977.

Not since Rosewall’s progression to the 1977 final in Hong Kong has a player older than Karlovic vied for a title – and the Croatian will hope he emulates the Australian by going on to win on Saturday.

A total of 33 aces rained down from Karlovic’s racket during the three-set encounter, with the match’s crucial break coming in the fourth game of the decider.

He will meet Kevin Anderson next after the top seed overcame Gilles Simon in the second semi-final, the South African motoring to a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) triumph.

In Qatar, Djokovic saw his 13-game winning streak come to an end as Roberto Bautista Agut came from a set down to knock the world number one out.

It was only a second win over the Serbian for Bautista Agut – his first coming in 2016 – and it will live long in the Spaniard’s memory.

“I will remember this match all my life,” he said after the 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 win.

“I work every day to play this tennis. I know it’s difficult to play at this level. That’s why Novak is number one in the world. But I cannot be more happy than I am now.”

Bautista Agut will meet Tomas Berdych in Saturday’s final after the former world number four overcame Marco Cecchinato in straight sets.

Berdych – playing in his first tournament in six months after a back injury – saved three set points before moving ahead, the Czech converting his fourth match point to complete a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 victory.

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