Unleashing his all-around game at a crucial time, Kevin Anderson negated the serve and volley tactics of Ivo Karlovic in an excruciating three-set final to lift the Tata Open Maharashtra singles title in Pune on Saturday. In the battle between the big-serving tall players, the South African world number six tamed the ‘gentle giant’ 7-6(4) 6-7(2) 7-6 (5) to claim his sixth career title. Anderson had ended as runner-up in the final last year.

Expectedly, points were short and there were no exciting rallies as the match was largely restricted to thundering serves from the two players. Karlovic saved all eight breakpoints in the two-hour 44-minute match and led 5-2 in the deciding tie-break but the South African reeled off five straight points to clinch the trophy.

Anderson left a return from Karlovic after being called out by the linesman but the chair umpire overruled and also denied him the Challenge. It put the Croat ahead 5-2 but still could not take advantage as Anderson regrouped quickly to make solid returns and ended the match with his 21st ace.

Karlovic, ranked 100, had won a title at the age of 37 to be the joint oldest champion with Roger Federer and was bidding to better not only this record but also get his first title in more than two years. On Friday, the 39-year-old had become the oldest ATP Tour finalist in 42 years.