Ivo Karlovic, a month short of his 40th birthday, could not quite spring a surprise in the Maharashtra Open final, losing to Kevin Anderson.
Kevin Anderson marked the start of the 2019 season by collecting his sixth career ATP Tour title with a dramatic victory over veteran star Ivo Karlovic at the Maharashtra Open.
The Wimbledon finalist was at his big-serving best on Saturday, but still required tiebreaks to triumph, unable to wear down his 39-year-old opponent, the oldest finalist on the Tour since Ken Rosewall in 1977.
Karlovic led the breaker in the third, but top seed Anderson responded to instead prevail 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) in Pune.
The serves dominated from the off, with few opportunities for a breakthrough until Anderson applied pressure with a series of superb returns at 5-4, but passed up two set-point opportunities.
Karlovic came through that stern examination, yet a sloppy tiebreak – including two uncharacteristic double faults – gave Anderson the opener.
Kevin Anderson wins the Championship point with an ace, his 21st of the match!
What a moment for the South African! #AdvantagePune #TataOpenMaharashtra #TOM2019 #ATP #ATPTour #Tennis pic.twitter.com/oJOiZY8upg
— Tata Open Maharashtra (@MaharashtraOpen) January 5, 2019
A pair of championship points were swatted away by Karlovic as the pair completed a third set without a break of serve and the underdog was in control as Anderson protested an early call had put him off in the tiebreak.
The response was sublime, though, and Karlovic twice failed to hold serve before Anderson aced his way to victory.