Ljubicic, Berdych reach quarters in Rotterdam

Friday, February 11, 2011

ROTTERDAM - Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych and Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic dispatched unseeded opponents to reach the quarter-finals of the ABN-AMRO World Tennis here Thursday.

Fourth seed Berdych held off a spirited effort from Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 to gain a spot in his third quarter-final in as many events this season.

Top seed Robin Soderling needed almost two and a half hours and 16 aces to hold off Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (9-7) as the German saved two match points and missed on one of his own in their second-round battle.

The Swede will play a repeat of the 2010 title he won in the port city when he faces Russian sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny, a winner over local Thiemo de Bakker 6-4, 6-4. Marcos Baghdatis reached the last eight with a win against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.

Ljubicic, seeded seventh, was untroubled by athletic Frenchman Benoit Paire, whose diving shot-saving on the hard court could not prevent a 6-0, 6-4 loss.

Ljubicic began reliving his glory days at the Ahoy stadium, where he went 14-5 in his first five appearances - including finals in 2005 and 2007. But his luck turned with first-round losses over the last three seasons.

“I have lost my last four matches on this court,” said the player, who turns 32 next month.

“I have been coming here a long time, but the last three years have been difficult for me. It is nice to be back in this way.”

Qualifier Paire, 21, with a ranking of 136, lost his second match against a top-20 player in 63 minutes, losing serve five times but saving a match point in the closing game before going out.

The win was the second for Ljubicic against the youngster after second-round success last month at the Australian Open.

Ljubicic, holder of 10 career titles, has reached his second straight quarter-final after last week in Zagreb, where he lost to home compatriot Ivan Dodig, the eventual champion.

The veteran said that he is now at the stage where enjoying his tennis is the most important thing.

“I have a different motivation, being a father,” Ljubicic said.

“My goal last season was regaining the top 20 - I did slightly better with the top 15. But I am not looking at the rankings any more, though the pleasure of winning a match is still incredible.”

Berdych took more than twice as long as Ljubicic to advance, winning in just over two hours against Tursunov, who returned from injury last season.

“The first set went very slowly for me,” said Berdych, who beat Roger Federer in 2010 in Miami and lost the Wimbledon final three months later to Rafael Nadal. “But the conditions here suit my game.

“I served well and played aggressive. It was a matter of a few shots at the end.”

The Czech plays Friday against French eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

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