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Ljubicic Edges Clement In First Round

Casablanca, Morocco

Ivan Ljubicic In Action© El KhiatIvan Ljubicic In Action

Former World No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic posted his 350th career match win with a 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 victory over No. 8 seed Arnaud Clement in the first round of the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament, on Monday.

The 30-year-old Croat fired 16 aces and beat the Frenchman for the seventh consecutive time and now holds a 7-2 career advantage.
Ljubicic, who evened his match record at 7-7 on the season, converted two of nine break points and saved three of five break points on his serve in the two hour and 58-minute battle. Ljubicic is now 350-236 in his career in ATP World Tour level matches.

Ljubicic will next face Portuguese No. 1 Frederico Gil, who notched his 10th match win of the season (10-4) with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) victory over Spaniard Alberto Martin. Gil came into the tournament a career-high No. 70 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings after reaching the third round at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami where he lost to World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

No. 4 seed Victor Hanescu of Romania won his 2009 clay court debut with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Steve Darcis of Belgium. Hanescu converted six of eight break points while losing his serve four times. Darcis struggled with his serve as he won only 43 per cent of second serve points compared to Hanescu's 69 per cent. Hanescu will next meet Spaniard Ivan Navarro, who won his first ATP World Tour match (1-8) of the year as he was leading Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-5, 4-2, when the Ukraine native retired with a right wrist injury. He also withdrew from the doubles draw.

No. 5 seed Florent Serra of France ousted Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-3, to improve his match record to 8-9 on the season. Serra converted four of five break points and saved three of four on his serve in the one hour and 17-minute opener. Serra won 65 per cent of service points compared to Bellucci's 53 per cent.

In addition to the five singles matches on Monday, four qualifiers were placed in the main draw, including 2004 Casablanca champion Santiago Ventura.


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