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Rediff.com  » Sports » Ljubicic stuns Nadal, meets Roddick in final

Ljubicic stuns Nadal, meets Roddick in final

March 21, 2010 07:04 IST

Ivan Ljubicic played the match of his life to upset third seed and holder Rafael Nadal 3-6 6-4 7-6 on Saturday and reach the final of the Indian Wells ATP tournament.

The big-serving Croat, seeded 20th, recovered from a set down before crunching a forehand down the line to clinch the tiebreak 7-1 and seal victory in two hours, 34 minutes.

Ljubicic jumped and down in delight, thrusting both arms skywards, to celebrate only his second win against Nadal in seven meetings, and his first in five years.

The Croat will compete in his fourth Masters final against American Andy Roddick, who held off a fightback by Swede Robin Soderling to win their semi-final 6-4 3-6 6-3.

"It was a great, great match," Ljubicic told reporters after firing down 17 aces for a tournament total of 66." Probably the best I've ever played in my career. I really enjoyed it.

"I struggled a little bit at the beginning with the wind ... but I felt from the beginning okay from the baseline. I didn't feel like he was in control of the points.

"I just felt if I found the rhythm of the return then I can have the match, and that's exactly what happened.

"It's a great, great moment and my fourth Masters final. I hope it's gonna be finally the victory. We'll see tomorrow."

TENTATIVE START

Ljubicic began the match tentatively on a breezy afternoon in the California desert, twice double-faulting before netting a forehand to be broken in the first game.

He also lost his serve in the ninth, after a clever Nadal lob forced an error by the Croat as he stretched his racket upwards, to lose the opening set in 34 minutes.

The Spaniard, whose crosscourt forehand was scintillating, seemed poised for a straight sets demolition after going 0-40 up on Ljubicic's serve in the sixth game of the second set.

But Ljubicic saved four break points to hold and then broke Nadal for the first time in the ninth game, after the Spaniard double-faulted, before levelling the match.

Service breaks were traded in the first two games of the third set before the players went into a tiebreak which Ljubicic dominated as Nadal made a series of unforced errors.

Seventh seed Roddick reached the final at Indian Wells after holding off sixth-seeded Soderling in one hour 46 minutes.

The powerful-serving American, who had lost to the Swede in their two previous meetings, broke Soderling in the seventh game to sweep through the opening set in 37 minutes.

Although the Swede levelled the match by twice breaking his opponent in the second, Roddick returned the favour in the third and clinched victory when Soderling hit a backhand long.

Source:
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