HALL OF FAME TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2014
Hewitt Completes Newport Double
by ATP Staff|
He claimed his 30th ATP World Tour title after edging second seed Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(3) in the singles final, and then partnered with fellow Australian Chris Guccione to defeat Jonathan Erlich and Rajeev Ram 7-5, 6-4.
“I felt relief to have finally won here. It’s an important tournament,” said Hewitt, the singles runner-up in 2012-'13. “For me, I’ve come here the last three years and have come awfully close the last two years. It’s nice to be rewarded today.”
The triumph put the 33-year-old in elite company as Hewitt became the fourth active player with 30-or-more singles titles, joining Roger Federer (79), Rafael Nadal (64) and Novak Djokovic (45). Hewitt, playing his 10th final on grass (8-2), added a fifth different grass-court trophy to his collection (also Queen's, Halle, 's-Hertogenbosch, and Wimbledon).
Hewitt fought gusty winds to dig out the win in two hours and 30 minutes in the singles final. Hewitt’s precise return game preyed on the Karlovic serve (57 per cent), winning 66 per cent (36 of 54) of second serve points.
The 35-year-old Croat managed to fight off two match points as Hewitt served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and drew even to force - and win - the second-set tie-break. The scenario was reminiscent of Hewitt’s runner-up finish last year, when the 2002 Wimbledon champion served for the match at 5-4 in the second but eventually lost.
After a shaky start in the decider for Hewitt, when he saved three break points, the pair held serve until the tie-break. Hewitt converted on his third match point.
“We had tough conditions today, especially for serving,” he said. “I was just trying to play clean tennis as much as possible. From the baseline I was able to adjust to wind better than him.”
With a combined 68 years and 10 months between Hewitt and Karlovic, the match was the oldest tour-level final since 1977, when Ken Rosewall and Tom Gorman played in the Hong Kong final (74 years and 8 months). It marked the fourth all 30-over final of 2014.
"Hewitt returned really well," said Karlovic, a winner of two grass-court titles. "He rarely missed. I didn’t have my normal serve because it was windy. I was committing a lot of double faults and missing volleys - both of which I don’t normally do. That was because of the wind and because Hewitt was always right there.
“I’m a little disappointed but overall it was a good week."
Karlovic, the defending champion at next week's Claro Open Colombia in Bogota, was contesting his third final on as many different surfaces this season. He had reached finals on the indoor hard-courts of Memphis (l. to Nishikori) and on clay in Düsseldorf (l. to Kohlschreiber) earlier this year.
In the doubles final, Guccione and Hewitt served at 73 per cent and won 34 of 44 (77 per cent) first-serve points en route to their first team's title.
“It was good to win with 'Gooch' - we’d never won a title together before," said Hewitt. "We’ve played some big matches, in Davis Cup. It was important for us to win. I’m pretty pumped about it.”
Guccione echoed his partner's sentiments: "It’s nice to finally cross the line and have a victory.”
Prior to Hewitt, four players had claimed both singles and doubles titles at this grass-court event: Nicolas Mahut in 2013 (w/ Roger-Vasselin), Ram in 2009 (w/ Kerr), Dan Goldie in 1987 (w/ Scott) and John Fitzgerald in 1983 (w/ Amritraj).
Erlich is also a former Newport champion, having teamed with countryman Harel Levy to lift the Val Alen Cup in 2000.