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Karlovic Sets Up Newport Clash With Hewitt

Newport, U.S.A.

Karlovic© Kate Whitney LuceyIvo Karlovic owns two grass-court ATP World Tour titles.

Ivo Karlovic reached his 11th ATP World Tour final and third of the season after taking down Australian Samuel Groth 6-4, 6-4 at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Saturday afternoon.

The 6’11” Croat erased the lone break point he faced early in the first set and served at 58 per cent en route to the 65-minute victory. The 35 year old also hit nine aces and leads the grass-court tournament with 53 aces struck this week. Groth, who was playing in his first ATP World Tour semi-final, amassed 52 aces during his run.

"It was a difficult match because [Groth] serves unbelievably," said Karlovic. "I was lucky enough to take my opportunities and win."

Karlovic owns five ATP World Tour titles, two of which were won on grass (Nottingham 2007-'08). The right-hander will play in Sunday's final against two-time finalist Lleyton Hewitt.

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Groth was bidding to reach his first ATP World Tour final. The 26 year old’s Newport campaign propels him into the Emirates ATP Rankings Top 100 and guarantees a main-draw berth at the 2014 US Open.

The former World No. 1 Hewitt, seeded third, finished off 21-year-old Jack Sock 6-1, 6-2 in Saturday's second semi-final. The Australian booked his third straight Newport final appearance by winning 78 per cent of service points and breaking Sock four times during the hour-long contest. Hewitt faced no break points against his American opponent.

"I felt pretty confident going in with my ball-striking," said Hewitt. "I was able to nullify [Sock's] biggest weapons - his serve and forehand - right from the start."

The Adelaide native is the first in Newport history (since 1977) to reach three straight singles finals. Hewitt finished runner-up to John Isner in 2012 and Nicolas Mahut last year. The 33 year old is trying to win his 30th title (29-16) and join Roger Federer (79), Rafael Nadal (64) and Novak Djokovic (45) in the list of active players with 30-or-more titles.

Like Groth, Sock was bidding to reach his first ATP World Tour singles final. The World No. 76 claimed his second Grand Slam crown earlier this month, partnering with Vasek Pospisil to defeat the Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the men's doubles championship match.

"It's the end of a great summer. I head home tomorrow for some much-needed rest," said Sock. "I'll be ready and prepared for Atlanta and all the upcoming hard-court tournaments."

Karlovic leads Hewitt 4-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and has won all three of their meetings on grass. Most notably, Karlovic dealt Hewitt, then the defending champion, a first-round loss at Wimbledon in 2003.

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© Ben Solomon

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