Ljubicic-Roddick in Indian Wells final
Ivan Ljubicic rode his big serve to a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) victory over defending champion Rafael Nadal on Saturday and a berth in the BNP Paribas Open final.
The Croatian served 17 aces — giving him 64 in the tournament — and overcame 51 unforced errors in ending a five-match losing streak against the world's third-ranked player.
Ljubicic will play seventh-seeded American Andy Roddick in Sunday's final. Roddick beat No. 6 Robin Soderling in the other semifinal.
Jelena Jankovic and U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki will play for the women's title Sunday.
Ljubicic upset second-ranked Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 and is in position to win an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time after three runner-up showings, the last in 2006 at Miami.
Nadal was trying to end an 11-tournament title drought. He hasn't won since last May in Rome after being hampered by knee injuries last summer and at the Australian Open.
Nadal appeared unbeatable in the opening set, powering forehands out of Ljubicic's reach. But the lefty's best stroke deserted him at times in the second set, when Ljubicic broke for a 5-4 lead on Nadal's double-fault. The Croatian served out the set and then broke again to open the third.
Nadal broke back in the next game, but he later blew a break point to go up 5-3. Ljubicic held with an ace to tie it 4-all. Both players stayed on serve to force the tiebreak, where Nadal committed four errors to fall behind 6-1.
Ljubicic won on his first match point, sending a forehand down the line. He jumped in the air and thrust his right fist in celebration a day after his 31st birthday.
He could become the first 30-or-over player since Andre Agassi in 2001 to win at Indian Wells.