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Ljubicic Leads Croatia Charge in China
By Marko Puljić | Published  09/14/2006 | News , Sports | Unrated
Ljubicic Charges On
No Go For Soeda as Ljubicic Leads Croatia Charge in China

Ivan LjubicicBy Nick Mulvenney

BEIJING, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Top seed Ivan Ljubicic led a trio of Croatians into the second round of the China Open with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 victory over Japan's Go Soeda on Tuesday.

The world number three cranked up his formidable serve to see off the inexperienced 22-year-old Japanese in an hour and seven minutes on a balmy evening at the Beijing Tennis Centre.

He was joined in the last 16 by compatriots Mario Ancic and Ivo Karlovic as well as Cypriot third seed Marcos Baghdatis, who survived a scare to beat German Denis Gremelmayr 4-6 6-1 7-6 in his first match since a five-set U.S. Open defeat to Andre Agassi.

After losing the first set, Baghdatis took only 25 minutes to win the second but had to fight back from 4-1 down in the third to win a nail-biting tiebreak 7-5 and set up a second round appointment with Taiwan's Wang Yeu-Tzuoo.

Ljubicic was in no doubt what weapon in his armoury had proved most effective in his opening match of the tournament.

"I felt really powerful out there tonight," Ljubicic told reporters. "I felt my serve worked really well and by the end I was getting my second serves in excess of 100 kph, which shows how well I felt."

Being seeded one clearly sits easily on the 27-year-old's shoulders and he has taken both his tournament victories so far this season from the top of the draw.

"It's the kind of pressure that I like, I was top seed at Chennai and Zagreb and won both of those," he said. "It gives me extra confidence."

 Fourth seed Ancic marked his return to action after two months out injured with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over Spain's Feliciano Lopez.

Ancic, who injured his knee while trying to jump off a yacht into the Adriatic sea in July, looked rusty but clearly enjoyed his return to the court.

His taller compatriot Karlovic, the seventh seed, opened the day's action by bombarding Russian Mikhail Ledovskikh with 25 aces on his way to a 6-2 7-6 victory.

The next match on Centre Court saw wild card Wang Yu beaten 7-6 6-3 by Slovenian qualifier Luka Gregorc to end mainland China's participation in the tournament.

Second seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko, a semi-finalist at the U.S. Open last week, arrived late on Monday and will complete the first round against Denmark's Kenneth Carlsen on Wednesday.


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