Ljubicic, Blake in final showdown

Top seed Ivan Ljubicic has set up a final showdown with third seeded American James Blake at the Thailand Open 2006 at Muang Thong Thani tomorrow.

Ljubicic from Croatia upset hometown hero Paradorn Srichaphan in a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory in just one hour and 17 minutes.

�I have to look for the points with my serves. I have to use my best weapons. I think it would be stupid not to use your best shots,� said Ljubicic, who fired 17 aces in the match.

�When I break this early, I don�t let him back in the match so it�s very difficult for the crowd to get involved.�

�Paradorn is a very good person. I would love to see him to win this title definitely but not this year,� Ljubicic added.

The Thailand number one said he was disappointed that he could not do anything against Ljubicic.

�I could not really play my game. He made a lot of aces which it was really difficult to break his game.� said Srichaphan.

The top seed will have a final-round clash against third-seeded James Blake who crushed Marat Safin in a tense three-set match.
The 26-year-old American came from one set deficit to beat his Russian opponent 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) in two hours and four minutes.

In the see-sawing final set, Safin was inspired by the cheering crowd and broke his American opponent�s service game back in the 12th game but it was not enough to help him win the tie breaker.

�I�ve been out for a while from injuries. It�s very difficult for me to play. It took me five months to recover. Now I�m looking forward to play in the next tournaments hoping to be seeded in the Australian Open next year,� the world #72 said.

Blake who is after his fourth ATP title said �I don�t think it�s gonna take Safin quite as long to get his confident back. He got such a talent and before he knows he�s going to be in the winner�s circle again. He can be right back in the Grand Slam circles anytime if he can just put those games together.�

Blake is now 49-21 on the season trailing only world number one Roger Federer with eight and Rafael Nadal with five and remains on course for a place in the Masters Cup Bong88 in Shanghai at the end of the season.

In Doubles Semi-finals, Andy Murray and Jamie Murray beat Chris Haggard of South Africa and Jordan Kerr of Australia 7-6(2), 6-4 to reach their first ATP doubles final.

The British brothers who just started playing together this year will face top seed Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israeli who defeated Ashley Fisher of Australia and American Tripp Phillips 6-1, 6-4.

Blake clinches Thailand Open 2006 title

Third seed James Blake claimed his fourth ATP title of the year beating top seed Ivan Ljubicic in the final of the USD 550,000 Thailand Open 2006.

The 26-year-old American Blake tamed world number three Ljubicic 6-3, 6-1 in just 59 minutes.

Blake made early breaks in both sets putting the top seed in a difficult position to get back into the game.

�I played great and his serves were a little off from the start and I put pressure on him. My games kind of come and go a little and he kind of lost his serves and I took advantage on that,� said Blake who was making his Thailand Open debut.

�I put more and more pressure on him and I was able to keep it up for the whole match. I think it was a little combination of me playing well, and him not playing his best match.�

Blake had captured three ATP titles this season at Sydney, Las Vegas and Indianapolis, putting him behind only Roger Federer with eight and Rafael Nadal with five.

The Croatian world number three, who has already passed Andy Roddick for third place in the INDESIT ATP Race by reaching semifinals here, served only two aces in the match.

�I didn�t feel like I played really terrible actually. I think he was too good. He was playing incredibly well and he read my serves perfectly,� said the world number three who lost to his American opponent for the first time in five meetings.

�He put a lot of pressure on my strokes. I was hoping I could do that to him too. He felt definitely more relaxed than me. He felt like he had nothing to lose. He definitely brought out his best tennis today.�

World #9 Blake receives 35 INDESIT ATP Race points with USD 76,500 prize money, boosting his chances of qualifying for the Masters Cup in Shanghai in November.

Meanwhile, top-seeded Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram sealed their second Thailand Open title beating British brothers Andy and Jamie Murray in a third set tie breaker in the Thailand Open 2006 doubles final.

The Israeli tandem, who won doubles in the inaugural event in 2003 and were runner-up in 2005, defeated the British brothers 6-2, 2-6, 10-4 in one hour and seven minutes.

The win marks the top seeded pairs their fourth ATP title this season, after winning at Adelaide, Nottingham and New Haven.

�We got an easy win in the first set but it suddenly turned around in the second. But after winning the first two points in the tie breaker we became confident. I think we�ve more experience than them,� Cara Daftar Sbobet said.

British brothers Andy and Jamie Murray just started pairing up this year and registered their first wins here in Bangkok.