Gentle giant Ivo Karlovic dare not dream of surpassing the all-time serving record of revered compatriot Goran Ivanisevic, even after lifting his total with a Sunday title at the Stockholm Open.
The huge-serving Croatian rained down 27 untouchables to raise his season count to 1,135 through a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 finals win over frustrated Swede Thomas Johansson.
Karlovic joins elite company alongside Roger Federer as one of the only two men with trophys on on three surfaces this season.
“Goran is in a class of his own, I’m not thinking about this record,” Karlovic said after pulling to within 342 aces of his compatriot, who capped his career with the 2001 Wimbledon title before retiring.
“It would be so far in the future for me. Goran was an unbelievable player, I don’t think I can top him on aces.”
Even with a running average of more than 20 per match, Karlovic remains all but certain of falling short with just three weeks left in the ATP season.
The towering 2.08-metre Croatian left no chances for Johansson, Sweden’s two time champion, who lifted the honours in 2000 and 2004 but could not compete in a blow-out third set in the contest lasting 1hr, 23min.
Johansson was the last man to win the Kungliga Hallen title before American James Blake, who claimed the 2005 and 2006 trophys but saw his streak here stopped at 13 straight in the semi-finals by Johansson.
“I didn’t play as well today as I did in the quarters and semis,” said the Swede.
“It’s tough to play him if you lose your serve early in the set.
“He has really improved his game on the baseline, it’s a disappointing loss for me. My first two sets were OK but I really had a let down in the third.”
Karlovic added the Stockholm title to a clay title in Houston last April and a grass victory before Wimbledon on grass.
The Croatian has exploded into form this season, playing four of his five career finals and lifting his ranking to 25th and climbing after dipping out of the Top 100 in the spring.
Johansson, 32 and ranked 55th, was the last of seven Swedes who began the week. After saving five match points on Saturday to upset Blake, the veteran was unable to impose on Karlovic, now 37-18 on the season.
The result has no effect on the race for the remaining five places in the Masters Cup race with much to be decided in next week’s Madrid Masters among contenders.
Sweden cruised past Liechtenstein on Saturday to move closer to securing a place in next summer’s European Championships.
West Ham star Freddie Ljungberg set the pace with a goal on the 19 minute mark.
Bolton midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson and Elfsborg’s Anders Svensson brought the final score to 3-0 for Lars Lagerbäck’s side.
A showdown against Northern Ireland awaits on Wednesday, with victory for the Swedes enough to ensure qualification.
Henrik Stenson shot his way into the final of the World Matchplay Championships at Wentworth with victories over Woody Austin and Anders Hansen. But he was unable to see off the challenge of eventual winner Ernie Els.
Niclas Fasth fell by the wayside in the first round with a 3 & 2 loss at the hands of Argentina’s Andres Romero.