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American Rajeev Ram wins Hall of Fame tournament, beating Ivo Karlovic

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NEWPORT, Rhode Island — Rajeev Ram knew it was the shot of the match.

Ram won the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the second time Sunday, beating second-seeded Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (2).

With the score tied 1-all in the third-set tiebreaker, Ram lunged from his right to left, barely getting a backhand return on a 136 mph serve before the ball sailed just inside the sideline.

"I don't know if I was surprised I got it," Ram said. "I was surprised I got it by him, that I hit it that cleanly to get it by him.

"I'm not going to say I can do everytime. There's no chance. It just happened to be the right time."

Ram then served consecutive aces, taking charge in the tiebreaker en route to the title.

The 31-year-old American, ranked 161st, also won on Newport's grass courts in 2009. The two titles are his only victories on the ATP Tour.

After upsetting top-seeded John Isner in his first match of the week, Ram said the courts were "conducive" to his style.

"Whenever you sneak by a match like that, as good as John is, you feel like you're going to be in the hunt," Ram said.

The match ended when Karlovic hit a backhand return into the net.

"I wish we had more of them out there, I'll tell you," he said about the grass surface next to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The 36-year-old Karlovic also lost in the final in Newport last year, falling to Lleyton Hewitt. The 6-foot-11 Croatian player was seeking his seventh ATP title.

"That's what it's all about in crucial moments — to be able to do that," Karlovic said. "There's nothing to say about it. He was there and hit unbelievable shots."

Ram broke serve once in the first-set tiebreaker, hitting a forehand cross to go up 5-4. He followed that one with an ace, too.

"I just felt like for some reason I stepped up in the breakers this week," he said.

There were no better shots than his return in the final tiebreaker.

"This year, in the end, he was a little luckier and that was it," Karlovic said. "In the end, it's about one or two points and that's it."

Ram, who will move in the ATP top 100 and secured a spot in the U.S. Open, took home $84,250 for the victory. Karlovic earned $44,370 in his 14th career final.

Isner was the last American to win the title at Newport, doing it in 2012.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Rajeev Ram holds the trophy after defeating Ivo Karlovic, of Croatia, in the Tennis Hall of Fame Championship final in Newport, R.I., Sunday, July 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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