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Ljubicic Ends Tsonga's Campaign; Raonic, Berdych Advance

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Milos Raonic© Getty ImagesMilos Raonic won just his fourth tour-level match on clay.

Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic dealt a blow to French title hopes on Tuesday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters as he ousted No. 12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2), 6-4 in the second round of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tennis tournament.

Ljubicic, a popular figure with the crowds at the Monte-Carlo Country Club as he resides in Monaco and honed his tennis skills across the border in Italy, has rediscovered his form this week. The 32 year old came into the first European clay-court event of the season on the back of three straight defeats, but has now improved to a 10-7 mark in 2011.

Against Tsonga, Ljubicic rallied from a break down in both sets to claim victory in two hours and nine minutes, and afterwards said, “It's really about staying patient and calm because I was really mad when I lost that first serve in the first set. I was just trying to keep calm, and then wait for my chance. Because on clay it comes, it always comes.

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"I practice on this course every day of my life when I'm not at a tournament. It feels special. It relaxes me actually more. I don't feel like it's a normal tournament. I don't feel the tension of the tournament."

Milos Raonic continued to prove his budding clay-court credentials as he defeated Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 7-5. The Canadian, who won just his third tour-level clay-court match with a first-round win over Michael Llodra on Sunday, failed to close out the match on serve at 5-4 in the second set, but did not falter at the second time of asking and prevailed in one hour and 31 minutes.

“I don't think I've ever done that before,” said the Canadian on losing five points in a row to surrender his serve at 5-4. “Knowing here it's tough to get the free points with the serve... I think I just played a sloppy first one, then after that just nerves got a bit in the way. But I was happy with how I sort of put it all together right after. I was able to reel off a few points in a row. I just tried as best as I could to keep it under control. I'm happy with the outcome.”

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World No. 7 Tomas Berdych rounded out the day’s action as he ended the run of Belgian qualifier Olivier Rochus, 6-2, 6-3, to reach the third round in Monte-Carlo for the third time in six visits. The Czech player, who advanced to the semi-finals (l. to Nadal) in 2007, saved six of the seven break points he faced and broke serve four times from 11 opportunities to seal victory in one hour and 46 minutes.

The 25-year-old Berdych has made a strong start to the 2011 ATP World Tour season, reaching the quarter-finals or better in six of his seven events played. He made his Grand Slam breakthrough on clay last year when he reached the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Soderling), before a month later finishing runner-up at Wimbledon (l. to Nadal).

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