March 21, 2010: Ivan Ljubicic edges Andy Roddick to lift Indian Wells crown


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March 21, 2010: Ivan Ljubicic edges Andy Roddick to lift Indian Wells crown

Two days after turning 31, Ivan Ljubicic defeated Andy Roddick 7-6 7-6 in the final of Indian Wells to pick up his first Masters 1000 title and become the second oldest champion at this level after Andre Agassi. A former world number 3 didn't enjoy the perfect start of 2010 season, winning just five matches in the first four tournaments he played, but he saved his best tennis for the big event in the desert to claim his 10th and it will turn out to be the final ATP title of his career. This was the eight Indian Wells run for Ljubicic and he didn't win a match there before 2005 when he lost in the fourth round to Roger Federer, He played well in the following years, losing in the quarters on three occasions to Federer, Roddick and Murray, and he managed to go all the way in 2010, defeating world number 2 Novak Djokovic and world number 3 Rafael Nadal en route to the final where he faced Andy Roddick.

Ivan became the first Indian Wells champion outside Federer, Nadal and Djokovic since 2003 and this was also the first Masters 1000 final without players from the big 4 since Paris 2008 when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat David Nalbandian.

Of course, the final clash was very important for Andy Roddick as well, trying to win his first big title since Cincinnati 2006 (he would win Miami two weeks later) and it was a fearsome battle right from the start. Interestingly, this was their 11th and the final meeting on the Tour and the sixth at Masters 1000 series, with the Croat beating the American for the fourth time overall.

Ivan served at just 56% but he managed to fend off all six break points he faced and prevail in both tie breaks for straight sets triumph. He had the advantage in the shortest points, hitting nine aces more than Andy, and the American had the upper hand in the longer exchanges to stay in touch all the time (they both won 84 points).

Roddick had to play against three break points and all of those came in the very first game of the match, saving them with three quick points to avoid an early setback. Tables turned in game four when Ivan had to play against three break points, saving them with ease and closing the game with a backhand down the line winner to level the score at 2-2.

Andy had the upper hand from the baseline in the rest of the set and he won another longer point with a smash winner in game 10 to create a set point. Ivan fired a good serve to repel it and that was the last opportunity for the returners before the tie break.

The Croat was more focused in those crucial moments, winning all points on serve and scoring two mini-breaks to clinch the breaker 7-3 and move a set away from the title. It all could have been very different if Andy managed to convert any of two break points he forged in the ninth game of set number two but he was denied by two good serves from Ivan who closed the game with an ace after more than 10 minutes to remain in front.

Both players held with ease in the last three service games to set up another tie break, a must win one for Andy. Ljubicic was again the more efficient player, scoring the first mini-break with a backhand winner and jumping into a 5-1 lead when Andy netted an easy forehand.

Roddick pulled one mini-break back in the ninth point and he reduced the deficit to 6-5 with two good points behind his serve but Ljubicic needed just one unreturned serve to grab the win and celebrate his biggest success on the Tour at the age of 31.

He was the more aggressive player and he handled the crucial points with more efficiency than his rival to close the match in 2 hours and 7 minutes and become the first Croat with Masters 1000 crown since Goran Ivanisevic in Paris 1993.

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