• Ljubicic out-serves Muller to reach Metz final

    9/24/11 4:15 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Ljubicic out-serves Muller to reach Metz final Ivan Ljubicic wins a pair of tiebreakers to beat Gilles Muller on Saturday in Metz. Ljubicic awaits either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Alexandr Dolgpolov in the title match.

    Ivan Ljubicic blasted 26 aces and beat Gilles Muller 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in the semifinals of the Moselle Open on Saturday afternoon. Ljubicic advanced after one hour and 50 minutes of play, setting up a title match against either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Alexandr Dolgopolov.

    Muller seemed to have the upper hand throughout the first set, but he could not capitalize on his opportunities. Although the Luxembourgian won 14 points in six return games, he got a look at just one break chance and failed to convert it. Ljubicic, on the other hand, won only five points in his opponent's six service game.

    More of the same continued when Muller seized a quick mini-break for a 2-0 lead, but that's when Ljubicic turned the tide. The 32-year-old recovered for 2-2 and soon ended the 'breaker on a five-point winning streak.

    Both players served their way into a second-set tiebreaker with ease. Ljubicic dropped a mere four points in six service games while Muller surrendered just eight. This time it was the 29th-ranked Croat who gave back an early mini-break, but he seized another one at 5-5 when Muller sent a volley wide. That gave Ljubicic match point, and he converted it--fittingly--with a booming ace.

    Metz's No. 4 seed double-faulted just twice and won 45 of 51 first-serve points. Muller fired 18 aces to Ljubicic's 26 and the world No. 49 won 89 percent of his first-serve points.

    "You have to be careful in matches like this because one little lapse in concentration and the service is gone, the set is gone," Ljubicic explained. "It feels unbelievable. My serve is back. I haven't served like this for the whole year."

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