ThrowbackTimes Indian Wells: Ivan Ljubicic wins title over Andy Roddick

Two days after turning 31, Ivan Ljubicic prevailed over Andy Roddick 7-6, 7-6 in the 2010 Indian Wells final to lift the first and only Masters 1000 title, becoming the second oldest champion at this level after Andre Agassi! Former world no. 3 didn’t enjoy a perfect start of the 2010 season, winning just five matches in the first four tournaments before saving his best tennis for the big event in the desert, claiming the tenth and, as it turned out, the last ATP title of his career. It was the eighth Indian Wells trip for Ljubicic, scoring no wins before 2005 when Roger Federer took him down in the fourth round. Ivan played well in the following years, losing in the quarters on three occasions to Federer, Roddick and Murray as a prelude to this triumphant run in 2010, defeating world no. 2 Novak Djokovic and world no. 3 Rafael Nadal en route to the final where he faced Andy Roddick on March 21.

The Croat became the first Indian Wells champion outside Federer, Nadal and Djokovic since 2003 in what was the first Masters 1000 final without players from the big four since Paris 2008 when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated David Nalbandian! The title match was significant for Andy Roddick as well, as he tried to win his first notable title since Cincinnati 2006 (he would win Miami two weeks later), with both giving their best to cross the finish line first. Interestingly, it was their 11th and last meeting on the Tour and the sixth at the Masters 1000 level, with the Croat overpowering the American for the fourth time overall. Serving at 56%, Ljubicic fended off all six break points and prevailed in both tie breaks to bring the victory home in straight sets. He had the advantage in the shortest exchanges after hitting nine aces more than Andy, with the American having the upper hand in the more extended rallies to stay in touch all the time, with 84 points for each player.

Ivan Ljubicic prevailed over Andy Roddick in Indian Wells 2010.

Roddick had to play against three break chances, and all of those came in the first game of the match, repelling them with three quick points to avoid an early setback. Tables turned in game four when Ivan experienced three break chances, erasing them in style and closing the game with a backhand down the line winner to level the score at 2-2. Andy controlled the pace from the baseline in the rest of the set and won another more extended point with a smash winner at 5-4 to create a set point. Ivan fired an excellent serve to save it, and that was the last opportunity for the returners before the tie break. The Croat was more focused in the crucial moments, winning all points on serve and scoring two mini-breaks to clinch the breaker 7-3, moving a set away from the most prominent result in a career.

It all could have been very different had Andy managed to convert any of two break chances in the second set’s ninth game, denied by two good serves from Ivan, who closed the game with an ace after more than ten minutes to remain in front. In the last three service games, both players held with ease to set up another tie break, a must-win one for Andy, who had no room for errors. Ljubicic was once again the more efficient player, though, scoring the first mini-break with a backhand winner at 1-1 and racing into a 5-1 lead when Roddick netted an easy forehand to move closer to the finish line. The home star pulled one mini-break back in the ninth point and reduced the deficit to 6-5 with two excellent points behind his serve before Ljubicic sealed the deal with an unreturned serve to grab the triumph and celebrate the crown after two hours and seven minutes, becoming the first Croat with the Masters 1000 title since Goran Ivanisevic in Paris 1993!