Ljubicic beats Roddick to win Indian Wells title
Ivan Ljubicic beat Andy Roddick 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) to win the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, finally claiming his first ATP Masters 1000 title after three losses in finals.
The 31-year-old Croatian will rise to around 13th in Monday's ATP Tour rankings, returning to the top 20 for the first time in more than two years and recovering from a form slump last year when he lost in the first round in five consecutive tournaments.
``I had my problems, like everybody else,'' he said.
All that was forgotten Sunday when he beat Roddick in a contest between big servers.
Ljubicic set up his fourth match point with the last of his 20 aces, then clinched it with a service winner to become the second-oldest champion at Indian Wells behind Jimmy Connors, who was five months older as the 1984 champion.
``It was really a mind game,'' Ljubicic said. ``When you have two big serves, not a lot of rallies happening, it's a very mental match. I was fortunate enough to be more relaxed by the end.''
Roddick was trying to become the first American man to win at Indian Wells since 2001, but he trailed in both tiebreakers. He had beaten Ljubicic seven times in 10 meetings, winning their last match at Indian Wells in two tiebreakers in 2007.
``I felt like I was winning my fair share of the rallies once we got into them,'' he said. ``I just ran into a guy who served great on the big points. Unfortunately that's probably the one thing that I don't have control over out there.''
Jelena Jankovic had a much easier time in the women's final, defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 for her first title in seven months.
The former top-ranked player from Serbia, dictated from the baseline throughout her 1 1/2-hour match, hitting the lines and keeping Wozniacki on the run.
Jankovic broke Wozniacki three times in the first set and again in the first game of the second set.
``I wanted to be really aggressive, but at the same time patient, and not really go for too much or go over the limit with some balls,'' Jankovic said. ``I waited for my opportunities, and when I had them, I took them.''
Wozniacki said she tried mixing it up, but made mistakes on key points
``I tried to change it when I saw it was not going my way, but I just made a few too many errors at the important points,'' Wozniacki said. ``I didn't have too many first serves in. Normally, the other matches I set the points up with my service well. That didn't happen today. Then I was on the back foot and she was deciding.''
Two years removed from being the world's No. 1 player, Jankovic is projected to rise to No. 8 when the WTA Tour rankings are released Monday. She hadn't won a title since August at Cincinnati; Indian Wells is her 12th career title.
``I'm looking forward to playing some good tennis and really doing the right things out there,'' she said, ``and if I'm doing that, I'll be winning big titles and the ranking will come on its own. I'm looking to do well in the big events.
Wozniacki, last year's U.S. Open finalist, will reach a career-high No. 2.
For Ljubicic, his breakthrough in an ATP Masters 1000 final followed losses in 2006 to Roger Federer at Miami, and in 2005 to Tomas Berdych at Paris and Rafael Nadal at Madrid. Ljubicic is the first player outside the top 20 to win a Masters 1000 title since No. 21 David Nalbandian in 2007.
``Looking at my career, I did feel like I was missing it,'' he said. ``It's really a fantastic feeling to finally have it. It gives something special to your career.''
There were no service breaks in the 2-hour final. Roddick served three love games in the second set, but had nothing to show for his effort.
Ljubicic won the first three points of the first tiebreaker. Roddick's forehand error left him trailing 6-3. Ljubicic set up his winning forehand with a drop shot - a tactic that repeatedly worked against Roddick.
Ljubicic raced to a 6-2 lead in the second tiebreaker, but he double-faulted on his first match point. He challenged the call on Roddick's service return, but the ball was on the line, leaving the American trailing 6-4. Roddick got to 6-5 with an ace before Ljubicic closed it out.
``He served great. The last two days were an exhibition on how to serve big points,'' Roddick said. ``I felt like I was getting aced or he was hitting a service winner every time I'd worked my way into a game.''