Longshot Ljubicic Out-Guns Roddick for Indian Wells Title
by Sean Randall | March 21st, 2010
  • 23 Comments

Thirty-one is turning out to be a good number for Ivan Ljubicic. The Croat celebrated his 31st birthday on Friday and two days later the tournament longshot stands atop the tennis world after an improbable run to the Indian Wells BNP Parisbas title.

Ljubicic capped his dream week this afternoon beating favorite Andy Roddick 7-6(3), 7-6(5) to capture his first career Tennis Masters title, and his 10th crown overall.

“It’s been a fantastic week,” an elated Ljubicic told the crowd after the 2-hour, 7-minute win.

Ljubicic was under pressure several times during the match, but just as he’s done throughout his career his monster serve kept him out of harm’s way. And in the tiebreaks, Ljubicic stepped on the gas and played the better tennis. Today, he was the better man.

Ivan served 21 aces (to Roddick 12) and saved all six break chances he faced. He also cracked his backhand for a few winners and his forehand held up when he needed.

The two won 84 points each, but the Bald Bomber just came up bigger and was the aggressor in the breakers.

Roddick, who had one of his best weeks in a long time in the U.S., played well off the ground and was again dominant on serve, but one has to wonder if his newfound defensive strategy is going to beat the more offensive-minded players.

On the podium, a gracious Roddick said, “I’d like to congratulate Ivan on having such a great week. I don’t how much of this true but about a year ago there was some talk in the locker room that you were maybe close to stopping tennis. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but let me just say we would have lost a hell of a player. I’m not so glad you are out here today but in general, yes.”

Ljubicic was equally kind in response: “When I watch you [Roddick] play I get inspiration to work hard hard because of the amount of energy you put in the court just tremendous. So i hope you keep going and win a lot of major titles.”

While much has been made of Andy’s improved backhand, I counted just twice that Roddick went down-the-line off that two-handed wing. A year ago he was creating opportunities with that down-the-line shot and causing opponents problems.

But today I saw it just twice – and he won the point both times he tried. If Andy is going to rely on this defensive tactic he can’t keep hitting his backhand cross court. It probably wasn’t the difference today – though you could see Ivan sitting in the ad court anytime he went to Roddick’s backhand – but against the top guys they will take advantage.

For Ljubicic, you have to think this is a one-off week for the veteran. His last hurrah. A final celebration for the warrior. And good for him.

Ivan beat three Grand Slam winners – Roddick, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – and finished the event winning three straight tiebreaks. Not a bad week for a guy who was virtually an afterthought in major events. And hadn’t won an outdoor title since 2007 and who had never won on American soil.

Roddick now joins good friends Mardy Fish and James Blake as recent Americans who have come up short in the Indian Wells final. Andy was also trying to add Indian Wells to a trophy case that already included hardware from North American events the US Open, Canadian Open, Miami and Cincinnati.

Happy Birthday Ivan! Thanks for living up to the March Madness.


Also Check Out:
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To Rest His Knees, Rafael Nadal Might Not Play Indian Wells
March Madness? It’s Roddick v. Ljubicic for the Indian Wells Title
Ivan Ljubicic: Djokovic Isn’t Happy, He Wants More, And He’s Going To Get More
Nadal v Roddick Lined-up in Miami, Hot Sauce on Deck

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23 Comments for Longshot Ljubicic Out-Guns Roddick for Indian Wells Title

jane Says:

“you have to think this is a one-off week for the veteran. His last hurrah.”

Well, I know what you mean here Sean, but one wonders if this is all he has left in him. Probably you’re right. But he won Lyon last fall, and in Dubai this year he took out Tsonga before pushing Novak to 3 sets there. So who knows? Maybe he has another surprise left. What amazed me was his mental strength, not only his serves. It takes a lot of guts to step up in a tiebreak against Rafa or Roddick and just let rip. He needs to get a lot of credit for that. Big congrats to him!

Roddick and Ljub gave such eloquent speeches that the event ended on a high note. And to see an under/older dog come through like that made it fun to watch, though I was sad for Andy’s loss.

Also interesting was Soderling’s play at this event; he too went through a great draw, losing in 3 sets to Roddick. He won Rotterdamn. Maybe he’ll have another really good season. It was tough to say after the disappointing AO result, but his run at IW may (?) suggest different.

Anyhow, off to Miami it is. I wonder what’ll happen there…?


andrea Says:

ivan is another player like davydenko that never got the accolades he deserved. they both played a lot of matches every year to keep their rankings up and neither of them courted, or had the press, court them.

ivan did finish the year at #3 not so long ago so good for him.

and roddick should probably thank baghdadtis for taking old roger out or else he may have never made it to the final!


Sean Randall Says:

Miami, I have no clue! After this week maybe Albert Montanes walks away with that one!

Soderling’s no flash in the pan, he had a good week and he’s going to be a factor.


INES Says:

I´m happy , loving this old player win the whole thing,he has a fantastic backhand and he was the better player today…so Congrats Ivan!
He deserves to win he beat 3 top guys to reach the final,Rafa was going to play against the first top ten in the final, hope Miami draws will be better.


Cindy_Brady Says:

Ljubicic (once at 3 in the world) probably would have more master’s titles if he hadn’t had the misfortune of playing Fed at his prime in a couple finals during Fed’s incredible finals win streak some years ago.

He clearly is a smart crafty player with a hyooooge serve. Even bigger than Roddick’s it seemed.

Ljubicic deserved the win and it was nice to see a seasoned veteran come through like this.

Only thing is, his bald head. It looked like something out of the movie “Beneath the planet of the apes*. Ivon, please where a hat. The veins in your skull are very frightening.

Looking forward to Miami. Anything can happen.


Daniel Says:

Wow, I didn’t saw that coming. Agree with Jane, what was more impressive was his mental strengh. Not anybody can enter tiebreaks agaisnt top guys and just seize control.

I didn’t saw first set but in the second his serves were killing Rod. Maybe Rod needs to work in his return game a little more, some serves from Ljub were fast but returnable, the other top guys would habe put more balls into play.

I think in Miami the order will be restored and one top 4 will win it. Now they are all rest and had match play.


Andrew Miller Says:

Kudos to Ljubicic. The better man today.


sar Says:

Here’s the TV schedule for Miami. http://www.sonyericssonopen.com/News/Tennis/2010/Pretournament/TV-Coverage.aspx

See you all next week. Need a break.


Michael Says:

There was much prediction going on about the likely winner in Indian Wells. It went like Federer, Murray, Djokovic, Nadal, Soderling et al. However, nobody tipped Ljubucic. Infact if one had done so, he would have been branded insane. But today, one of those soul which daringly made such a prediction would be laughing all the way to the bank. Ljubucic has made it beating some of the top players enroute to bag one of the most coveted Masters title and this achievement coming at did in the tail end of his career is a crowning glory indeed. Remember this man has never won a Masters title before in his long career. All this have become a thing of the past and today he has shown that age is no bar on the road to success. By this, he would have breathed fresh energy into the veins of some of the veterans may be even Federer who would now fancy his chances much longer in the tour. Poor Roddick played his best but his misfortune was that Ljubucic was not missing many like he was doing against Nadal and although his first serve percentage was just about 55%, aces came pouring at crucial break points spoiling his chances. May be Roddick is destined to be unlucky thoroughout his career or will he too have his day ? That remains to be seen. But It is Ljubucic all the way in Indian Wells.


jane Says:

Michael, I thought of you when Ljub won.

Here are some quotes from Ljub:

1. On finally winning a MS shield:

“Looking at my career in general, I did feel like I was missing it,” said Ljubicic. “It’s really fantastic feeling to finally have it. It gives something special to your career. It’s just another thing that after Davis Cup, Olympic medal and two Top 10 finishes, one Top 5 finish and now in Masters 1000, it makes everything look better actually.”

2. On his excellent play in tiebreaks:

Re: the one against Nadal:

he called the “best tie-break of my life”

Re: the two against Roddick:

“I think it was more mental. Both tie-breaks I felt more relaxed, especially in the second tie-break. In fact, there was some strange things happening by the end of that match, but that just shows you how relaxed I was.”


Michael Says:

Jane, Everthing is well that ends perfectly. You have to give it to Ljubucic. He deserved it especially when he beat a string of top players on the tour. And finally for all the hard work he has put in all these years, he has reaped the reward. Hard work pays. It is nice to see contemporaries of Federer like Davydenko, Roddick and Ljubucic performing well today and that clearly eclipse the “weak period” theory contributing to Federer’s dominance. At 31, Ljubucic may be nearing the end of his career, but this win will linger long in his memory for times to come. Afterall, he has something to say to his grand childern in future.


skeezerweezer Says:

Robby Genepri seeded 14 the in the Qualies in Miami…….Ouch!


Skorocel Says:

Congrats to Ljuby for finally winning that elusive MS trophy! His serve was simply PHENOMENAL in these last 2 matches! Pity for A-Rod, as he had a great opportunity to complete his North American MS trophy cabinet, but that’s how it sometimes goes in this sport… Don’t be so sad, Von! There’s absolutely NO shame to lose when the opponent’s serve is clicking as much as it did for Ljuby today…

P.S. Very gracious speech from both guys, btw. If only that dude who presented the trophy to Ivan didn’t screw the whole thing up… LOL :-) Was he drunken or what?


Michael Says:

Skorocel, Ljubicic served pretty ordinary today. His first serve % was just 54% against Roddick’s over 70%. But it didn’t matter at all because Ljubicic managed to ace Roddick at crucial break points. It goes to show that what matters in the end is winners at crucial points. If you serve ace at 30-0, it has only value of taking the point to 40-0. But if you serve to aces being 0-30 down, that matters a lot and that is what Ljubicic did today.


OllyK Says:

All the way from R16 to finals I thought “in next match he will choke”..but noooo! :) Congrats, Ljubo! Good for Serbia that he decided not to play for Croatia DC team anymore. :P


Dory Says:

Andy Roddick attempts to hit very few winners (if you don’t count the serve) and plays too defensive like Murray. Hia main weakness remains that. It’s not that he can rally around without making errors too. Good for Ljubicic. Deficient as Roddick’s game is, Ljubicic winning was totally unexpected.


MK DAMODARAN Says:

Ljubicic was born on March 19,1979.Numbers 1 and 4 are highly lucky for him.So,age 31(3+1=4) is strongly significant


Cindy_Brady Says:

Dory,

I agree with you. Roddick plays soft and defensive on big points waiting to extract errors too often. He had openings against Ljubicic but refused to pull the trigger on many occasions.

Maybe he should take some cues from Del Potro at last year’s U.S Open. He wasn’t afraid to hit big at big moments. Didn’t wait for Fed to make an error, instead he took it too him.

That’s why I don’t like Roddick, He’s mentally weak at big moments in a match and his stiff game gets exposed. Suddenly his hands turn to stone and he plays not to lose. Remember the awful volley he bricked in the tie breaker against Federer at Wimbledon.

Ljubicic played smart and confident in both tie breakers. Where was Roddick? Oh Yes, waiting for Ljubicic to lose instead trying to win himself.

Typical Roddick.

You Roddick faithful


Skorocel Says:

“Skorocel, Ljubicic served pretty ordinary today. His first serve % was just 54% against Roddick’s over 70%. But it didn’t matter at all because Ljubicic managed to ace Roddick at crucial break points.”

I understand your point, Michael. 54 % isn’t exactly a stellar number, but 9 service winners during 9 BPs (or something like that) certainly IS. The guy was simply serving insanely good in those crucial moments – and that’s all what counts…


Skorocel Says:

correction: “but 9 service winners during 9 BPs” should read “but 6 service winners during 6 BPs” Obviously, there were 9 BPs in total in that match (6 Roddick, 3 Ljubicic)…


Von Says:

Skorocel: Thanks for your kind words, — it’s appreciated. I agree, Roddick has nothing of which to be ashamed. Andy just ran into a guy who was on fire, but those who like to criticize are sadly devoid of rational thinking.


Michael Says:

Now having won Indian Wells, what will be Ljubucic chances at Miami ?? That will be real test of his consistency factor.

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