Muller Continues Dream Season With Den Bosch Title
Luxembourg native defeats Karlovic in final
Fourth seed Gilles Muller won his second ATP World Tour title on Sunday at the Ricoh Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, prevailing over third seed Ivo Karlovic in a battle of big serves 7-6(5), 7-6(4).
“I think we should make a suggestion to the ATP that we just start with the tie-break next time!” said Muller. “It’s always tough to play Ivo and I’m glad I could beat him. I had many friends and a lot of family coming, so it’s been a great week here.”
The match between the 38-year-old Karlovic and 34-year-old Muller was the oldest singles final on the ATP World Tour since Hong Kong in 1977, when 42-year-old Ken Rosewall defeated 30-year-old Ilie Nastase. Muller (34 years, one month) is the second-oldest winner in the tournament’s history, right behind 2016 winner Nicolas Mahut (34 years, five months).
Muller is the second player to reach an ATP World Tour final on all three surfaces this year, joining Stuttgart winner Lucas Pouille. After losing his first six finals, Muller won his first title in Sydney in January (d. Evans). He followed that up with his first clay-court final last month in Estoril (l. Carreno Busta). Muller’s outstanding season led to a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 26 on 8 May.
The Luxembourg native takes the lead in his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Karlovic 2-1. Muller also prevailed in two tie-breaks in last year’s semi-finals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but Karlovic got revenge by saving three match points to win the final in Newport.
Muller continues to excel in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, having reached the final last year (l. Mahut) and semi-finals in 2015 (l. Goffin). He picks up 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and a cheque for €105,045.
Despite the loss, Karlovic extended his all-time aces record by hitting 64 this week, putting him at 12,003. The Croatian reached his first ATP World Tour final since winning Los Cabos last August, but drops to 8-10 in championship matches. Karlovic leaves with 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points and a cheque for €55,325.
“It was an excellent week. I’m really happy,” said Karlovic. “Gilles had an unbelievable week and it’s nice he could win on Father’s Day!”
There were no break points in today’s final, with Muller surprisingly out-acing Karlovic (22 to 19). The fourth seed grabbed an early mini-break and the first-set tie-break and rode it to an early advantage. Karlovic led 4/3 in the second-set tie-break, but Muller won the final four points to prevail in one hour and 32 minutes.