Monfils, Ljubicic in Open Sud final

Defending champion Ivan Ljubicic beat Albert Montanes of Spain 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Saturday and will face Gael Monfils of France in the Open Sud de France final.

The fourth-seeded Ljubicic sealed the win with his 18th ace and never faced a break point. He won every point on his serve in the tiebreaker.

”I feel great. Today was good, I was able to play aggressive the way I wanted and everything went pretty good,” Ljubicic said, admitting that he felt tired heading into the match. ”That’s why I kept the points very short, I went for winners. I made a lot of mistakes but I knew that I couldn’t play with him left and right, 10 shots.”

Monfils won an all-French semifinal against his Davis Cup teammate, second-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-4. It was Monfils’ first win over Tsonga in three matches on the main tour.

Ljubicic won last year when the tournament was held in Lyon and in 2001 for his first career title.

”I have a fantastic record in France. I have won three titles here, played the final in Bercy, semifinal in Roland Garros and now here,” said Ljubicic, who also won an indoor title in Metz five years ago.

Ljubicic is looking for his 11th career title and second of the year. The Croat beat top-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 3 Novak Djokovic on his way to his first Masters title at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March.

Monfils was under pressure immediately in the opening service game, saving a break point as Tsonga attacked with heavy strokes from the back of the court.

Both players were cautious after that and there were no further break-point chances in the first set.

Tsonga held to love with a passing shot that wrong-footed Monfils as they headed into the tiebreak. Monfils raced into a 5-0 lead before putting a backhand return into the net. Monfils set up a set point with a drop shot followed by a volley and clinched it with his fourth ace.

Monfils then wasted three break points in the second set and lost his serve twice as Tsonga recovered with a consistent first serve.

But Monfils lost only six points on his serve in the decider and converted one of his two break chances to reach his third final this year.