Karlovic wins Stockholm Open

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/ivokarlovic_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Big-serving Ivo Karlovic defeated Thomas Johansson 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to win the Stockholm Open for his third career ATP title on Sunday.

Updated: October 16, 2007 18:22 IST
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Big-serving Ivo Karlovic defeated Thomas Johansson 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to win the Stockholm Open for his third career ATP title on Sunday.

After splitting the first two sets on the Royal Tennis Hall's hard court, Karlovic broke the unseeded Swede to lead 2-0 when Johansson netted the Croat's hard forehand return. Karlovic broke again to take a 4-0 lead.

"This is my first title indoors and that's special," Karlovic said. "I'm very happy that I won here."

Karlovic, at 2.08 meters (6-foot-10) the tallest player on the ATP tour, had 27 aces for a tour-leading 1,135 this year. Goran Ivanisevic, another Croat, set the record in 1996 with 1,477 aces.

"But I think it's almost unreachable," Karlovic said about the record. "He's too far ahead. I don't think about it."

With the win, the seventh-seeded Karlovic joined top-ranked Roger Federer as the only players to win singles titles on three different surfaces this year.

Karlovic won his first two ATP titles this year at Houston (clay) and Nottingham (grass) and earned a career-high ranking of No 25 this week.

Swedish tennis great Bjorn Borg presented the trophy to Karlovic.

"He congratulated me and said I played well," Karlovic said. "I've watched some of his matches. He's a legend."

With only three weeks left of the season, it's likely that Sweden, a former powerhouse in men's tennis, will finish the year without an ATP singles title for the second straight year. Johansson was the last Swede to win a title in St Petersburg, Russia, in 2005.

"I think I played much worse today than in the semifinals," said Johansson, who won two of his nine career titles in Stockholm. "My first two sets were OK, but my third set wasn't good. It's really tough to play Karlovic if you lose your serve early."

After holding his first two service games at love, the 55th-ranked Johansson was broken to trail 4-2 in the first set when he netted a sliced backhand. Karlovic only lost three points in his next two games with serve.

Johansson, a former Australian Open champion, broke Karlovic for the only time in the match to take a 2-0 lead in the second set. Karlovic had one break point at 30-40 in game nine when he hit a deep forehand winner into the corner. But Johansson eventually held with an ace to force a decisive set.

The tournament is in its 39th year and is one of the oldest indoor events on the ATP Tour.

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