Ivo Karlovic remained perfect on his serve in Washington and will play for his first ATP World Tour 500 title on Sunday. The 37 year old blasted 14 more aces and erased all five break points to beat American Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4 at the Rock Creek ...and more »
Ivo Karlovic remained perfect on his serve in Washington and will play for his first ATP World Tour 500 title on Sunday. The 37 year old blasted 14 more aces and erased all five break points to beat American Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4 at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center.
Karlovic now leads the tournament with 80 aces and has held all 43 service games.Â The 6'11â€ Croatian will face Frenchman Gael Monfils, who dismissed NextGen star Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-0 in one hour. Monfils controlled the match from the start, breaking the 19 year old to open the semi-final contest, the first of four service breaks the second seed would secure.
Monfils also landed nearly 70 per cent of his first serves, compared to 44 per cent for Zverev, who is the youngest player in the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. In the second set, Monfils dropped only three points (12/15) on his serve.
â€œHeâ€™s probably the quickest player on [the ATP World Tour],â€ Zverev said.
The 29-year-old will go for his first Citi Open title and his first ATP World Tour title since Montpellier in 2014. He also played for the Washington title in 2011 (l. to Stepanek). Monfils is 5-19 lifetime in ATP World Tour finals. Sunday's match-up will mark his third final of the season (Rotterdam, Monte-Carlo). Monfils said he's matured in recent years, which has helped his tennis.
â€œDefinitely, the aging helped me a little bit,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m still the young guy that plays PokÃ©mon but I think I still grew up.â€
He is 2-2 against Karlovic in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.Â â€œI cannot let [him] dictate my game,â€ Karlovic said. â€œIâ€™m going to continue doing what I did in this match, try and get as close to the net as I can, as quick as I can.â€
It will be Karlovic's first final at the Citi Open.Â He reached the semi-finals in 2007 but lost to Andy Roddick. Clutch serving and opportunistic returning ensured that Karlovic wouldn't fall to another American on Saturday.
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At 1-all, he saw a break point and converted. It was the only chance to break he'd have all set long as Johnson otherwise kept up his consistent serving. Up to that game, the 26-year-old American was 33/33 on his serve.
â€œI just tried to be as aggressive as I could,â€ Karlovic said of his return games.
The second set mirrored the first when, at 1-all, Karlovic sliced a backhand service return past a charging Johnson to earn another break. He'd serve out the set with his 14th ace.
â€œItâ€™s definitely frustrating when you have chances and you donâ€™t take them,â€ Johnson said. â€œYou lose your focus for a second and you lose serve and thatâ€™s the margin when you play against a guy like Ivo.â€
Karlovic will try to win his eighth ATP World Tour title on Sunday. He's played in 15 finals, including the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships final in Newport on 17 July (d. Muller).
On Friday, Karlovic said that winning an ATP World Tour 500 event was one of his goals for the next few years. He'll have a chance to cross it off his list on Sunday in Washington.
â€œIn my old age it is good when you can reach your goals still,â€ he said. â€œThat would be unbelievable if I am able to do it tomorrow.â€
Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Alexander Peya of Austria moved into the final with a 4-6, 7-6(4), 10-3 win against Henri Kontinen of Finland and Aussie John Peers. Kubot/Peya will face Canadian Daniel Nestor and Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who beat Romanians Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau 6-3, 6-4.
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