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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, June 18, 2017

 
Gilles Muller

In a rematch of the 2016 Newport final, Gilles Muller toppled Ivo Karlovic, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), to win his first career grass-court title in 's-Hertogenbosch.

Photo credit: Ricoh Open Facebook

In at ATP final for the ages, Gilles Muller hit timely strikes to reach a milestone.

The 34-year-old Muller crunched an ace on championship point toppling 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), in the ‘s-Hertogenbosch final to claim his first career grass-court title.

Watch: Pouille Wins Third Title in Stuttgart

It's the second title of the year for Muller, who defeated Dan Evans to win his first career title in Sydney on hard court in January. Muller was runner-up to Pablo Carreno Busta in last month's Estoril final on clay and joined Stuttgart champion Lucas Pouille as one of only two men to contest finals on three different surfaces this season.


 

πŸŽΎπŸ’¨

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It was the oldest ATP singles final in 40 years since a 43-year-old Ken Rosewall sliced his way past 31-year-old American Tom Gorman in the 1977 Hong Kong final.

The match was a rematch of the 2016 Newport final in which Karlovic fought off three championship points subduing Muller, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (12).

In fact, all seven of the sets between the booming servers at the ATP level have been decided in tie breaks leading Muller to a simple solution.

“The next time we just start with tie breaks right away,” Muller joked afterward. “Always very tough to play Ivo—he’s a great player and a great champion.

“Last year he won against me in a killer final. He saved some match points. I’m happy I didn’t have to go through that again.”

In a match devoid of a single break point, Muller thumped 22 aces—three more than the Croatian who hit an Australian Open-record 75 aces in January. The left-hander served 75 percent, surrendered just seven points on serve, including winning 46 of 49 first-serve points.

Muller scraped out a few low returns forcing the big man to bend in taking the opening-set tie break.

The pair exchanged mini breaks in the second-set breaker.

Bending low, Muller bolted a backhand pass down the line that skipped off the top of the tape for a 5-4 lead in the tie break. A jamming serve brought him to championship point.

Muller whipped his 22nd ace out wide closing a 92-minute victory in emphatic fashion.


 

#Muller πŸ‡±πŸ‡Ί wint #RicohOpen na 2 sets van #Karlovic πŸ‡­πŸ‡·! #7/6(5), 7/6(4)

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The 2016 Ricoh Open runner-up to Nicolas Mahut, Muller says support from family and friends make it feel like a home tournament.

“I’ve played here many times,” Muller said. “I can travel here by car and my family is here, so it’s a really nice tournament for me.”

This time, it’s a championship road trip.

Muller is the first left-hander to raise the ‘s-Hertogenbosch title trophy since Frenchman Michael Llodra defeated Guillermo Coria in the 2004 final.


 

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