Maharashtra Open: Anderson sets up 'giant' finale with Karlovic

Kevin Anderson beat defending champion Gilles Simon in straight sets to reach his second successive Maharashtra Open final.

Kevin Anderson progressed to the final of the Maharashtra Open with yet another straight-sets victory.

The Maharashtra Open will see a new champion crowned this year after top seed Kevin Anderson defeated defending champion Gilles Simon 6-3, 7-6(3) in Pune on Friday.

The 6ft 8in South African started strong, with two aces and a serve that sent Simon scrambling across the baseline, only a double fault keeping the World No. 6 from taking the game to love. He then saved a break point in the third game with a clean second serve and an inside-out crosscourt forehand.

Key Highlights: Maharashtra Open 2019

Compared to his quarterfinal defeat of compatriot Benoit Paire, Simon looked a lot more comfortable with his footwork in the opening minutes today. He moved with ease at the baseline and placed his shots to near perfection, taking points with 75% of his first serves at 2-2.

The first break of the match came in the eighth game, with Anderson's long reach helping him to a triple break point. He took the point, and the game, with a backhand crosscourt volley to lead 5-3. With Anderson serving for the set with a comfortable lead, Simon could not save a double set point and conceded the first set 6-3.

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The second set started as an equally tight affair, with both players holding their serve until Simon was broken – again – in the fifth game to give Anderson a 3-2 lead.

In the eighth game, trailing 4-3, Simon finally broke the 2018 Wimbledon finalist. Anderson saved two break points but couldn't get his return in to save a third. Simon levelled the set 4-4 and then retook the lead in the next game. Leading 6-5, the World No. 30 won a double set point but Anderson held his ground, and his serve, to take the set into a tie-break.

Simon took the lead with a forehand crosscourt drop but Anderson came back strong and won the next six points to get to match point with a 6-1 lead. Simon saved one match point but gave away one more and Anderson took this one, and the match, with his 21st ace of the night.

The South African, who hadn't lost a set coming into the semifinal, progressed to the final with a yet another straight sets victory.

At 39, Ivo Karlovic is the oldest ATP Tour finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1977.   -  R. Ragu

 

Karlovic 'aces' to the final

Earlier in the day, Ivo Karlovic defeated Belgian Steve Darcis 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 in the other semifinal to progress to the final, the highlight of the match being Karlovic's 33 aces. In doing so, the 39-year-old becomes the oldest ATP Tour finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1977.

Darcis, who became the first unranked semifinalist in ATP history after his win over Malek Jaziri on Thursday, made the Croatian work hard for his win. He pushed the first set into a tiebreaker but Karlovic's serve pulled him through.

Karlovic, who came into the match without conceding a single break point, was broken in the second set and faltered on his first serve to lose the second set 6-4.

The 6ft 11in Croat, who turns 40 next month, then rallied back with stinging serves and well-placed returns. He took a 3-1 lead and did not look back from there, taking the third set and securing a place in the final – his first ATP Tour final in more than eighteen months.

The result:

Ivo Karlovic bt Steve Darcis 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3

Kevin Anderson bt Gilles Simon 6-3, 7-6(3)

 

Final: Kevin Anderson vs Ivo Karlovic – January 5, Around 5 p.m IST