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October 31, 2009

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Ljubicic tops Serra in Lyon to advance

THIRD-SEEDED Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia reached the semifinals of the Lyon Grand Prix yesterday by beating Florent Serra of France 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Ljubicic, the 2001 Lyon champion, served 16 aces and broke his opponent twice in the second set before closing out the game on his second match point in Lyon, France.

Serra saved four break points in the first set to force a tiebreaker but Ljubicic - losing only four points on his first serve during the match - took a 3-0 lead and served his 10th ace before taking the set on his second set point.

Ljubicic, the only non-French player in the last eight, extended his perfect record against Serra to 4-0 and will face either top-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Arnaud Clement in the next round.

Second-seeded Gilles Simon was playing Julien Benneteau later in the day.

In St Petersburg, Russia, home favorites Mikhail Youzhny and Igor Andreev retired because of injury on Thursday in second-round matches at the St Petersburg Open.

Lower back pain

Top-seeded Youzhny was trailing Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 2-6, 1-2 before quitting due to lower back pain, while Marat Safin led 6-3, 0-1 before fellow Russian Andreev stopped because of a left knee injury.

Youzhny, the 2004 St Petersburg champion who won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow for his fifth career title on Sunday, said the pain prevented him from playing his best in the first set.

Trailing 2-5, 15-30 on his serve in the first set, Youzhny double-faulted. He saved one set point but then returned wide to loose the set. He took a medical timeout to have his back massaged but trailing 1-2, 15-40 in the second set he decided to retire.

Youzhny said he would decide if he would play at the Valencia Open next week after a medical exam.

In his second quarterfinal this season, Istomin will play Safin as he strives for his first ATP title. Safin, the 2000 and 2001 champion, broke for a 3-0 lead in the first set. After losing the set, Andreev took a medical timeout to have his knee treated. He served for a 1-0 lead in the second set and then retired.


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