Pune, January 6: World No.6 Kevin Anderson of South Africa won the battle of giants against 2.11M tall Ivo Karlovic to clinch the Maharashtra Open title in Pune on Saturday.
Anderson, who stands at 2.03M edged out the veteran Croat 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in the tallest ATP final in the Open Era.
Anderson prevailed in the big serving duel despite the 39-year-old Karlovic, the oldest ATP finalist in more than four decades, hitting 36 aces.
Really excited to start 2019 with a title! Thanks to my team, the @MaharashtraOpen and all the fans. The atmosphere here was incredible and made this an even more memorable week. Thank you, Pune! 🏆🙏🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/aNAEUCmL8e— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) January 5, 2019
The 32-year-old Anderson, who improved on his runners-up showing in the last edition to clinch his sixth tour-level title, praised his "inspirational" opponent.
"Firstly want to congratulate Ivo for a great week. What you are doing is truly inspirational... Great to see you playing this kind of tennis," Anderson said of Karlovic.
"It was really close, it could have gone either way. Obviously very, very pleased to have gone one step further than last year," added the two-time Grand Slam finalist.
As the oldest player to reach a tour-level final since a 43-year-old Ken Rosewall defeated Tom Gorman to win 1977 Hong Kong, Karlovic saved two championship points in the final set to take it to a third tie-breaker.
But Anderson held his nerve to lift the trophy a year after he lost the 2018 final to Gilles Simon of France. Anderson had beaten Simon in the semi-final on Friday.
"It was unlucky but I would like to congratulate Kevin for an unbelievable last year and this week also," Karlovic said in praise of his top-seeded opponent.
Earlier, Rohan Bopanna combined his booming serves with exquisite backhand winners during his blossoming partnership with Divij Sharan as the Indian pair won its maiden ATP tour title after clinching the doubles title in Pune.
Ladies and Gentleman, here are your #TataOpenMaharashtra 2019 Doubles Champions! 🏆🏆— Tata Open Maharashtra (@MaharashtraOpen) January 5, 2019
Congratulations on the fantastic win @rohanbopanna & @divijsharan! 🤩 👏#AdvantagePune #TOM2019 #ATP #ATPTour #Tennis pic.twitter.com/G6W3jaeOag
Bopanna lost just four points on his serve during the entire title-clash as the top seeded Indians produced a dominating 6-3, 6-4 win over British pair of Luke Bambridge and Jonny O'Maara.
(With inputs from Agencies)