© Kate Whitney Lucey

Ivo Karlovic makes a strong start to his Newport title defence, dismissing American Denis Kudla for a place in the quarter-finals.

Karlovic Opens Newport Title Defence

Croatian has been in the final the past three years.

Second seed Ivo Karlovic got his title defence off to a strong start on Wednesday at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open as he defeated Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-4 in the second round in Newport.

The Croatian was playing his first match in almost two weeks, since a first-round loss to Aljaz Bedene at Wimbledon, and is looking for a return to winning ways at this ATP World Tour 250 grass-court tournament, where he has made the final the past three years.

After finishing runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt and Rajeev Ram in third-set tie-breaks in 2014-15, Karlovic made it third time lucky last year as he edged Gilles Muller in a decisive third-set tie-break in the final.

The 38-year-old Karlovic notched his 15th win in Newport as he fired 16 aces and broke Kudla three times. He levelled their FedEx ATP Head2Head series at 2-2 as he set a quarter-final clash with German Peter Gojowczyk, who came back to defeat Konstantin Kravchuk 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Another German, Tobias Kamke, secured his place in the quarter-finals by ousting third-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 7-6(5), 7-5. Kamke reached the Newport semi-finals on his one previous tournament appearance in 2011. 

"I had to adjust a little bit [from the first round], because my second-round opponent likes to counter punch," said Kamke. "I like to hit the balls pretty hard, but today I tried to mix it up and not give him too much pace because I know he plays very, very well. It worked out OK."

Top seed and home favourite John Isner cruised through his opening match at the grass-court tournament, kicking off his bid to reclaim the Newport title with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Australian qualifier Sam Groth in 61 minutes. Isner fired 13 aces and dropped a total of nine points on serve as he improved to a 3-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Groth.

Isner won back-to-back Newport titles in 2011 (d. O. Rochus) and '12 (d. Hewitt). He will next face American Dennis Novikov, who defeated Canadian Frank Dancevic 6-3, 6-2.

Fourth seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert saved 11 of 15 break points faced on serve while converting all four of his opportunities in a hard-fought 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win over Spain's Adrian Menendez-Maceiras. The Frenchman is making his Newport debut this week. 

In remaining second-round action, Bjorn Fratangelo finished strongly against #NextGenATP Australian Akira Santillan to record a 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-1 win in one hour and 49 minutes, while qualifier Matthew Ebden upset sixth seed Lukas Lacko 6-1, 7-6(2).

Top Doubles Seeds Reach Semis

Top seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Rajeev Ram raced into the Newport semi-finals as they dismissed Menendez-Maceiras and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela 6-1, 6-2 in 47 minutes. Ram, who won both his ATP World Tour singles titles in Newport (2009, 2015), announced after his first-round exit on Tuesday that he had likely played his last singles match. The American is bidding to win his 13th tour-level doubles title and his third of the season, after triumphing in Indian Wells and Delray Beach with Raven Klaasen.

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