This most unusual of Hall of Fame Championships reaches its conclusion on Sunday, with Lleyton Hewitt and Ivo Karlovic battling it out for the title.
And the plethora of two set matches continued on Saturday as Hewitt and Karlovic were both 2-0 winners to make it 28 straight setters from 29 completed matches in Newport this week.
It would take me the rest of the season to trawl the record books and seek a similar event where only one match in total has gone to a decider and surely this is some sort of record.
Saturday’s matches were again pretty poor fayre for those paying their entrance fees and in hindsight I should perhaps have trusted Hewitt more, as my fancy in that semi final won easily against Jack Sock.
I said yesterday that Rusty would have too much grass court smarts for Sock and so it proved, but Sock was awful – perhaps hampered by the elbow problem I mentioned – and Sam Groth was almost as poor.
Groth lost the serving contest to Karlovic after a very lacklustre display from the Aussie, who was broken once in each set to keep the run of straight sets matches going.
We start at 20:00 UK time tonight in the battle of the veterans.
Lleyton Hewitt vs Ivo Karlovic
This clash between Hewitt and Karlovic will be the oldest of the season and of this tournament since 1976, with the 33-year-old Aussie taking on the 35-year-old Croat.
And Rusty looks a decent choice to land his 30th career title on the grass on a busy day for Hewitt, who, after the singles, plays the doubles final with Chris Guccione against Jonathan Erlich and Rajeev Ram.
It could be third time lucky for Lleyton, who’s lost in the final here in Newport twice before, including last year when he served for the match against Nicolas Mahut before fading in three.
That’s certainly one element of Hewitt’s game that has waned over the years, with a tendency to be very choky serving out sets and matches these days, so he could be worth siding against in-play in such situations.
Against Ivo, Hewitt has won just one of their five career meetings and Karlovic was a comfortable winner on the grass at Queen’s in their last clash back in 2012, where he also beat Lleyton in 2005.
It’s quite a surprising head-to-head for me, as Hewitt has had a decent record against big servers over the years, but he’s lost a few of late to the likes of Kevin Anderson, Sam Querrey, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jerzy Janowicz.
I think this one could buck the trend of two set matches and go the distance, but I wouldn’t bet on it the way this week has gone and over 25.5 total games doesn’t look great value at 1.78.
Karlovic hasn’t even been serving that well in the main here this week and he was able to do just enough to get past Groth and Dudi Sela, both of whom folded under the pressure of holding their own serves in the end.
Hewitt has been seeing the ball well here this week and his record in finals is an impressive 63% win ratio, including five wins from his last seven.
Ivo has lost three of his last four championship matches and has a 6-5 (55%) win ratio overall.
It’s yet another pick ‘em match in Newport in what’s been a tough week for punters and a desperate one for overs backers and I expect Hewitt’s good return game and stronger will to win to land him a 30th career title today.
Back Hewitt to beat Karlovic at 1.80