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Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Sunday, 21 March 2010

Ljubicic beats Nadal to reach Indian Wells final

Ivan Ljubicic
Ljubicic is chasing his first tournament title since last October

Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic fired down 17 aces on his way to beating defending champion Rafael Nadal to reach the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells.

Ljubicic, seeded 20, ended a five-match losing streak against Nadal with a 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) victory.

It was a second big win for Ljubicic, who defeated second seed Novak Djokovic to reach the quarter-finals

He will play seventh seed Andy Roddick in Sunday's final after the American beat Swede Robin Soderling 6-4 3-6 6-3.

Nadal appeared unbeatable in the opening set, powering forehands out of Ljubicic's reach and breaking twice but his form deserted him in the second set.


A Nadal double fault allowed Ljubicic to break for a 5-4 lead and the Croat served out the set and then broke again to open the third.

Although the Spaniard broke back in the next game, he later squandered a break point which would have put him 5-3 up and Ljubicic held with an ace to tie it at 4-4.

Both players stayed on serve to force the tie-break, where Nadal committed four errors to fall behind 6-1 and Ljubicic, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Friday, won with a forehand winner on his first match point.

Nadal afterwards described his defeat as an "accident", adding: "That's my feeling, because I was playing (well) enough to win the tournament."

He continued: "I have to learn to try to play more aggressive next time, try to convert the opportunities."

The other semi-final was equally hard fought with Roddick finally prevailing to reach his first Indian Wells final after losing in the semis on three previous occasions.

Andy Roddick
Roddick launches into a forehand during his win over Soderling

"I would definitely love to win this - this is probably the only big tournament in North America that I haven't won.

"I feel like the crowd was on my side and I hope they're there tomorrow - they certainly have an effect on the match," he said.

Soderling had won the two previous meetings between the pair and it seemed that he might gain the upper hand again after breaking the American's serve twice in the second set to level the match.

But it was Roddick who held his game together in the decider and wrapped up the one hour 46 minute contest when Soderling overhit a backhand.

"I knew I was returning real well, so I thought this might be the rare occasion where that would be the thing that won it for me.

"Ultimately, the fact that I put a lot of pressure on his service games ended up helping," he said.

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see also
Murray bows out in Indian Wells
20 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Nadal sets up Ljubicic semi-final
19 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Murray through but Djokovic exits
18 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Djokovic forced to work for win
16 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Murray cruises past fitful Seppi
14 Mar 10 |  Tennis
Nadal cruises through on return
14 Mar 10 |  Tennis

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