Sun, Apr 01, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Canas downs Ljubicic to reach Sony Ericsson final

LAST TWO The Argentine will face Novak Djokovic of Serbia who thrashed an out of sorts Andy Murray to reach his second ATP Masters final in succession

AFP , MIAMI

Guillermo Canas in action against Ivan Ljubicic during their semi-final match at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Giant-killer Guillermo Canas defeated seventh-seeded Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets on Friday to reach the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.

Canas, who defeated world No. 1 Roger Federer in the fourth round downed Croatia's Ljubicic 7-5, 6-2.

In the final, he'll face Novak Djokovic, the 10th seed from Serbia who steamrollered 12th-seeded Briton Andy Murray 6-1, 6-0.

It marked the second time in the last two weeks that Djokovic coasted past the Scottish teen in the semi-finals of an ATP Masters Series event.

The Serb also cruised to a straight-sets victory in the last meeting between the 19-year-olds at the Indian Wells semis.

"I'm very proud of myself," said Djokovic, who fell to world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final. "I've managed to play two Master Series tournament finals in a row. That's a real big achievement for me."

This one could not have been much easier as Djokovic needed just 62 minutes to dismiss Murray, who was lethargic throughout.

"I don't want to make any excuses today," Murray said. "He played better than me, I wasn't very good. It was the worst match that I've probably played since I've been on the tour."

Djokovic had reached the semi-finals with a hard-fought upset of second seed Nadal in Wednesday's quarter-finals.

He picked up where he left off two days later, converting 71 percent of his first serves while breaking Murray five times.

The match swung Djokovic's way early. With the first set knotted at 1-1, the Serbian faced a triple break point but rallied to hold serve, broke Murray in the next game and never looked back.

"In that third game, I managed to come back from 0-40," Djokovic said. "I made the break in the next service game off Andy. Even though he had advantage, I played better. Since then, the match was basically over."

Ljubicic's bid to stay on course for a first Masters Series title was doomed by his inability to take advantage of any of his seven break point opportunities.

In Canas, the 19-year-old rising star Djokovic will meet an opponent on a roll.

Once ranked eighth in the world, Canas was suspended for doping in 2005 in a decision he is still fighting.

Canas has come back strong, winning his seventh career title at Costa Do Sauipe, Brail, this year. His victory over Ljubicic sent the highest seed left in the draw packing.

But the 29-year-old's biggest splash this week was his three-set victory over Federer.

On March 11, Canas had upset Federer in straight sets at Indian Wells, ending his 41-match winning streak.

"I'm feeling great to be in the final," Canas said. "I try to beat the sixth seed in a row."

He said he watched Djokovic's match, and expected a difficult challenge in today's best-of-five final.

"I think it's going to be a tough match for me, but really I feel very confident in my game. I know if I play well, I have a chance to beat him," Canas said.

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