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Karlovic Secures Bogota Final Berth Opposite Tomic

Bogota, Colombia

Karlovic© Claro Open ColombiaIvo Karlovic will look to defend his Bogota title on Sunday.

Ivo Karlovic will defend his Claro Open Colombia title on Sunday after overcoming a late surge by Radek Stepanek in the Bogota semi-finals.

The 6’11” Croat prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in one hour and 42 minutes, firing 22 aces and saving five of six break points faced to improve to 8-0 in the Colombian capital.

A pair of venerable veterans, Karlovic and Stepanek are two of just three players born in the 1970s who reside in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Stepanek rebounded after dropping the first set, snatching 17 of the first 21 points in the second to race out to a 3-0, 15/40 lead. The Czech would force a decider, but it was Karlovic who would secure the late break to claim victory after a riveting eight-volley exchange at the net on match point.

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In a rivalry that has spanned more than a decade, Karlovic exacted revenge on Stepanek following a straight-set rout at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters earlier this year. Perhaps their most memorable meeting was a thrilling six-hour affair in the 2009 Davis Cup semi-finals, won by Stepanek 16-14 in the fifth set.

Karlovic will look to defend a title for the second time after winning consecutive Nottingham crowns in 2007-'08. He is one of four players to have reached four or more finals this year, joining the elite trio of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The 35 year old is 5-6 in title matches on the ATP World Tour and will be eyeing his first trophy of 2014, following defeats in Memphis (l. to Nishikori), Düsseldorf (l. to Kohlschreiber) and last week in Newport (l. to Hewitt).

Karlovic will face wild card and former World No. 27 Bernard Tomic for the title after the Australian survived a valiant fight by 33-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 7-6(5) after two hours and 46 minutes.

Tomic, who will contest his second final of the year and third of his career, is looking to rediscover his top form following double hip surgery in late January. A champion at the Apia International Sydney in 2013 and a finalist there this year (l. to Del Potro), the 21 year old is set to return to the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

The German-born Aussie will look to extend his FedEx ATP Head2Head edge over Karlovic to 2-0 after prevailing in their lone meeting, last year at the Thailand Open.

Estrella Burgos, meanwhile, caps off a special week on the ATP World Tour, reaching his first semi-final and claiming his first Top 20 victory, over Richard Gasquet in Friday's quarter-finals.

Groth/Guccione Win Marathon Match Tie-break
Sam Groth and Chris Guccione defeated Adil Shamasdin and Divij Sharan 7-6(6), 4-6, 19-17 in the longest Match Tie-break of the year, advancing to the Bogota final on Saturday.

Guccione will seek a second title in as many weeks after teaming with countryman Lleyton Hewitt for the Newport crown.

The second semi-final featured an all-Colombian affair, won by Nicolas Barrientos and Juan Sebastian Cabal 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 over wild cards Carlos Salamanca and Eduardo Struvay. Barrientos and Cabal are competing in their first tour-level tournament as a team.

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