STOCKHOLM, Oct 14 (Reuters) Croat Ivo Karlovic blasted 27 aces past Swede Thomas Johansson to win the Stockholm Open 6-3 3-6 6-1 today, taking his third title of the year on a third surface.
''I was a bit lucky today,'' the Croat told reporters. ''It's my first win indoors, so I'm happy that I won,'' The 2.08-metres seventh seed, who has shown this week that he has more qualities to his game than his thunderous serving, is now the only player alongside world number one Roger Federer to have won titles on three different surfaces this year.
The 28-year-old won Houston's claycourt tournament in April and then on grass in Nottingham in June. The Stockholm Open is played on an indoor hardcourt surface.
With the win Karlovic also became one of six players this year with three or more titles. It should also put him just outside the top 20 on the ATP rankings.
Johansson, a winner here in 2000 and 2004, was broken to 4-2 by Karlovic who went on to serve home the set with an ace to wrap it up.
The Swede finally produced some decent returns in the next set as he broke the Croat to 2-0, and managed to hold serve throughout the set. Leading 5-3, the Swede saved a break point at 30-40 and went on to clinch the set with an ace.
In the decider, Johansson ran out of steam when the Croat broke his opening serve game to 2-0, and allowed Karlovic to take the next four of the five games for the match.
''I would like to congratulate Ivo,'' Johansson said. ''He played a great match and a great tournament.'' CROATIAN RECORD Karlovic's Sunday display of serving put him on an accumulated 1,135 aces for this year. Only his countryman Goran Ivanisevic, a Wimbledon winner who formally retired in 2004, has managed more aces in one year.
In 1996 Ivanisevic set the record of 1,477 aces after chalking up 1,169 in 1994, a number Karlovic will surely surpass this year.
''He is far in front of me, and I think the record is probably unreachable,'' said Karlovic, who insisted that all the talk of his serving does not bother him.
Johansson had battled back from the brink of defeat in the semi-finals by saving five match points to eventually beat defending champion James Blake in three sets yesterday.
''I couldn't quite deliver the same kind of game as I had during the previous two days,'' said the Swede.
REUTERS BJR BST2114