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Anderson vs Karlovic ATP Pune Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Anderson and Karlovic meet in big-serving Pune final

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 4 Jan 2019
  • Kevin Anderson vs Ivo Karlovic is live from Pune on Saturday, 5 January from 5:00pm local time/ 11:30am GMT
  • Anderson leads 3-1 on head-to-head, but two of his wins were via retirements
Kevin Anderson. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Kevin Anderson and Ivo Karlovic go head-to-head in a big-serving duel on Saturday as they battle for the Tata Open Maharashtra title in Pune.

It has been a historic run from the 39-year-old Karlovic, who is now the oldest man to reach a tour-level final since Ken Rosewall made the final in Hong Kong in 1977. Can giant Croatian crown a fabulous week by claiming his ninth career title? Or will top seed, Kevin Anderson halt his fairytale run on Saturday?

Anderson is looking to go one step further in Pune than he managed last season, when he lost to Gilles Simon in the final. The South African bounced back strongly from that disappointment to produce his best season yet, winning titles in Vienna and New York, and making finals in Acapulco and Wimbledon, where he famously fought back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in the quarter finals before coming through an epic six-and-a-half-hour marathon against John Isner in the semis.

Anderson's efforts got him into the Nitto ATP Finals, where he made the semi-finals on debut following victories over Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem. The 32-year-old has picked up from where he left off in the new year, beating Laslo Djere, Jaume Munar and Gilles Simon to advance to the Pune final.

The two-time Grand Slam finalist had lost to Simon in last year's Pune final, but he earned his revenge on Friday, powering down 21 aces in the 6-3 7-6 victory. He won 80% of his first serve points, saving nine of 10 break points against his serve, and converting the two opportunities he created on Simon's deliveries.

Anderson seemed in full command when he lead by a set and 4-2, but Simon has never been one to cheaply fall away, and he broke back for 4-4 in the second set, before carving out two set points with Anderson serving at 5-6. The top seed wriggled out of trouble before going on to dominate the tie break, sealing the win on his third match point.

He is one win away from his sixth career title, but his path to Pune glory is obstructed by a sizeable Croatian veteran.

Ivo Karlovic has put together a quality week, taking out Felix Auger-Aliassime, Evgeny Donskoy, Ernests Gulbis and Steve Darcis all in straight sets to reach his 19th career final.

Ivo Karlovic. (Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Unsurprising, his dominant weapon has been the serve, which has delivered 88 aces in Pune, 33 of them against Darcis in Friday's semi-final. Karlovic took the opening set against Darcis on a tie break, but his daunting serve was broken for the first time this week when his Belgian opponent struck midway through the second set on his way to forcing a decider. Karlovic would not be denied, as he scored the solitary break of the final set en route his first ATP World Tour final since June 2017, when he was runner-up to Gilles Muller in s-Hertogenbosch. 

Karlovic has produced some of his best seasons deep into his 30's- he secured three successive top-30 finishes between 2014 and 2016, but he has fallen off in the last couple of seasons, ending 2018 at exactly 100th in the rankings.

His best result last season was a semi-final in Houston, while he also reached the third round of the Australian Open, but he struggled for tour-level wins after his Houston semi, and spent the last few months of the season on the Challenger Tour. He actually had some good showings in the second tier tour, winning in Calgary, and making the final in Monterrey- results which ultimately preserved his top-100 status.

By virtue of his Pune run, Karlovic is projected to break back into the top 70 next Monday, notwithstanding whatever happens in Saturday's final against Anderson.

Statistically, Anderson leads Karlovic 3-1 on head-to-head, but the pair are 1-1 in completed matches, as Karlovic retired hurt from their most recent meetings at Delray Beach and Roland Garros in 2014.

While both men are formidable servers, Anderson has the better all round game- the South African moves better and is far more effective off the ground. However, Karlovic's serve makes him a very dangerous proposition, and if he serves as well as he can, which he often tends to do, and earns himself a couple of tie breaks, absolutely anything can happen from there.

Kevin Anderson vs Ivo Karlovic is live from Pune on Saturday, 5 January from 5:00pm local time/ 11:30am GMT

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Anderson vs Karlovic ATP Pune Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Anderson and Karlovic meet in big-serving Pune final

Kevin Anderson and Ivo Karlovic go head-to-head in the Pune final on Saturday. Can Anderson halt Karlovic's historic run? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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