(Reuters) - American Rajeev Ram continued his love affair with Newport as he booked his place in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championship final with a 6-4 7-6(4) victory over Australia’s John-Patrick Smith in Rhode Island on Saturday.
Doubles specialist Ram, whose only ATP World Tour title came on the grass surface of Newport in 2009, shrugged off blustery conditions to seal the win in one hour 23 minutes.
Ram, 31, will meet second seed Ivo Karlovic in Sunday’s final, the towering Croat having served 14 aces as he overpowered fourth-seeded American Jack Sock 7-6(3) 6-4 in their semi-final.
”It was definitely tough,“ 161st-ranked Ram told Tennis Channel about the on-court conditions after winning the last two points of his match on serve to clinch the tiebreak 7-4. ”It was really swirly right from the beginning.
“I served 40-something percent in the first set and that’s not great. But I did everything else pretty well. I was able to take my chances when I had them.”
Ram, a runner-up in the doubles at last year’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championship, has always relished playing on the grass of Newport.
“I’ve done all right here definitely,” said Ram, who saved two match points before battling past fifth-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 2-6 7-6(8) 7-6(2) in the quarter-finals.
“I love this tournament, I love this town and the court suits my game pretty well. I‘m just happy to be able to play for another one tomorrow.”
Karlovic, seeking his seventh ATP World Tour title, came from 1-4 down to regain control and took the opening set against Sock 7-3 in a tiebreak.
The second set went with serve until the six-foot 11-inch (2.11 metres) Croat broke his opponent in the crucial 10th game when the American netted a forehand.
Karlovic, ranked 24th, will aim to go one better at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championship on Sunday, having lost last year’s final in three sets to Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry