Hall of Fame Championships: Lleyton Hewitt beats Ivo Karlovic in battle of the veterans
Last Updated: 13/07/14 10:54pm
Lleyton Hewitt secured his second title of the season with a 6-3 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/3) victory over Ivo Karlovic in the final of the Hall of Fame Championships.
The 33-year-old Australian had lost in the final of the Newport, Rhode Island grasscourt tournament in each of the last two years but finally got his hands on the trophy after a tough battle against 6ft 10in Croat Karlovic lasting two-and-a-half hours.
Hewitt took the opening set courtesy of a solitary break in the ninth game and served for the match at 5-3 ahead in the second.
But he failed to close it out, a double fault followed by a backhand error allowing 35-year-old Karlovic to break back.
Karlovic, who hit 25 aces, saved two match points in the 12th game of the second set and went on to win the tie-break and force a decider.
Hewitt did not create even a break point in the third set but came up trumps in another tie-break, winning five of the last six points to clinch his 30th career title and eighth on grass.
"It was obviously very tough (losing in the final) the last couple of years," said Hewitt, who lost to Karlovic in the first round of Wimbledon as defending champion in 2003.
"Last year I served for it as well. That just makes it more gratifying.
"I've had some tough times with surgeries the last few years. But it's nice to know that all that hard work has paid off."
Karlovic made his comeback from viral meningitis at this event a year ago after being in a coma and saw the runner-up effort as an achievement.
"When I was in the hospital I didn't know if I would be able to do this again," he said. "To be here and do this now it's an unbelievable feeling."