Lleyton Hewitt and Ivo Karlovic, both accomplished grass-court players with contrasting styles, contested a thrilling final.
Former world No. 1 LLeyton Hewitt’s 2014 campaign started perfectly with the title in Brisbane, which included a win over Roger Federer in the final. It was his first title since 2010.
After that title, though, Hewitt was unable to advance deep in a draw for six months. Fortunately, a tournament that he’d found success at was on the horizon. In Newport, R.I., Hewitt—who reached the final of the tournament the previous two years—advanced to the final for a third consecutive year. After being pushed to three sets in the first round against Ryan Harrison, Hewitt didn’t drop a set on his way to the title match.
On the other side of the draw, No. 2-seeded Ivo Karlovic stormed through the draw without the loss of a set to face Hewitt, the player he scored his first major career win more than a decade ago.
Back in 2003, the colossal-serving Karlovic announced himself as a threat when he knocked out defending champion Hewitt in the first round of Wimbledon. That loss made Hewitt the first titleholder to lose in the opening round the following year in the Open Era. Over the years before this match, Karlovic would take three of his next four encounters with Hewitt.
This time, though, Hewitt struck first, breaking Karlovic’s sets-won streak in the tournament and taking the opening frame 6-3. In the second, Hewitt worked his way up to 5-4, serving for the title. But Hewitt lost his opportunity, with Karlovic fighting off two match points to break and eventually take the set in a tiebreak.
Hewitt was under pressure at the beginning of the third, but managed to hold serve right along with Karlovic until the pair found themselves in a tiebreak to decide it all. The tiebreak was first used in Newport decades earlier, so it was only fitting the title would come down to a decider. After even play between the two in the first few points, Hewitt broke through by winning five of the final six points to capture his second title of 2014 and No. 30 of his career.
That year was the last time a men’s professional final was contested between players with an older combined age than Hewitt and Karlovic’s 68 years and 10 months.
Newport was Hewitt’s eighth career title on grass, second at the time among active players behind Roger Federer’s 14.
Hewitt won two titles that day, capturing the doubles title later on with Chris Guccione. It was the first time Hewitt won the singles and doubles crowns at a tournament.
Karlovic played five tiebreakers over the course of the tournament and won four of them, only losing one—in the last set of the final.
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