Federer sweeps Ljubicic to reach Stockholm final
The Swiss world number two, Roger Federer, improved his runaway record against his good friend from Croatia to 13-3 and has won their last ten meetings.sports Updated: Oct 23, 2010 21:25 IST
Roger Federer moved into position for a 64th ATP title on Saturday as he defeated longtime rival Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 to reach the final of the Stockholm Open.
The Swiss world number two improved his runaway record against his good friend from Croatia to 13-3 and has won their last ten meetings.
The world number two takes a 2-0 record into his Sunday final against German Florian Mayer, who will play his third career final after a fighting 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) defeat of Finn Jarkko Nieminen.
Federer, defeated in last weekend's Shanghai final by Andy Murray, is aiming for only his third trophy of 2010 after winning the Australian Open and Cincinnati.
He has beaten Ljubicic in straight sets in their last five meetings. "It's been good all week," said Federer, who made his only other Stockholm appearance a decade ago.
"I started with a first win in under an hour and they just got tougher since that. "I've only had three matches so far and there's not been a lot of tennis played. "I had to be patient against Ivan in the first set, I missed some shots and some chances. But after I pulled out the first set with the tiebreaker, things went better for me.
"I've was feeling better about my game as the match went on. In the second set he was perhaps forcing the issue and making more errors." Ljubicic admitted there was little he could do once the Swiss got up a head of steam. "I played OK, but trying to come back in the second set was tough. He relaxed once he won the first set and just played better, it got a lot tougher for me."
Federer ended with his tenth ace on a second match point after 77 minutes as he won his 51st match of the season against a dozen losses.
Finals challenger Mayer will be looking to lift the first trophy of his career when he faces Federer.
His beaten opponent Nieminen, a Stockholm finalist in 2001 and 2006, missed in a decisive third-set tiebreaker as Mayer put over a cross-court winner which the 29-year-old Finn could not reach on the first of three match points.
The Finn came to the court with a 4-2 lead in the series and had won 11 of his 13 matches since a first-round US Open loss.
Mayer said afterwards: "I have nothing to lose. I was a little tired today, physically and mentally. "But I fought hard, I played for the line on match point and had a bit of luck. After losing the second set I was able to come back in the third."
Mayer, who defeated sixth seed Feliciano Lopez in the first round and Swedish number five Robin Soderling in the Friday quarter-finals, won his 23rd match of the season as he played in only his second semi-final of 2010. "I didn't play my best today but I fought unbelievable out there. I really wanted to be in the final. I think I deserve it." Mayer's win was only his third on hardcourts this season against 12 defeats on the surface.