Ljubicic to battle wild card Llodra for Lyon title

Third-seeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia reached the final of the Lyon Grand Prix on Saturday by beating Arnaud Clement of France 6-2, 6-4.

The 30-year-old Ljubicic will try to end a title drought of more than two years when he faces wild card entrant Michael Llodra of France in Sunday’s final. Llodra beat compatriot and second-seeded Gilles Simon 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Ljubicic, who won the first of his eight ATP titles in Lyon in 2001, will play his first final since February 2008 in Zagreb while his last title came in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in June 2007.

“I’ve been playing really good tennis recently and I hope I can continue like this until the end of the season,” Ljubicic said.

The Croatian big server broke Clement in the first game with a forehand winner before taking the Frenchman’s serve a second time to lead 4-1. Ljubicic then took the set with his sixth ace.

In the first game of the second set, Ljubicic went ahead on his fourth break point when Clement sent a forehand in the net.

Ljubicic didn’t face a single break point and closed out the game on his first match point when Clement sent a forehand wide.

“My serve was not as good as the other days, but I felt pretty good on court,” said Ljubicic, who dropped his serve only once this week. “For me it was the perfect match.”

Clement, who won the title in Lyon in 2000, looked a bit tired after spending nearly three hours on court in Friday’s quarterfinal win over top-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but didn’t try to find any excuse.

“He was far better than me,” Clement said. “The score reflects the reality of this match. He played very well and I made more mistakes than yesterday.”

Llodra served 24 aces and broke his opponent once on his way to his victory over Simon.

Llodra extended his perfect record against Simon to 4-0 and guaranteed a Frenchman in the final for the fifth year in a row.

Simon, who has a slight chance of qualifying for next month’s eight-man ATP World Tour Finals in London, is now scheduled to play in Valencia, Spain, and Paris with the hope of scoring enough points to claim one of the two spots still up for grabs.