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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tennis: Djokovic, Melzer rally to advance in Dubai


Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Defending champion Novak Djokovic rallied past Ivan Ljubicic 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 Thursday to advance at the Dubai Championships.

Djokovic was down a set and 4-4 against former finalist Ivan Ljubicic, who had 14 aces. But Djokovic won the next eight games and awaits the winner between Marcos Baghdatis and Michael Berrer.

"After losing the first set comfortably, I tried to hold my serve," Djokovic said. "I knew that at a certain point he's going to miss (a) couple of first serves, and that was my chance. "

Jurgen Melzer overcame Marin Cilic 7-6 (8), 7-5 to reach the semifinals. Cilic looked in control with a 4-1 lead in the second set but Melzer held serve and Cilic started making errors on a windy afternoon.

It marked the first time this year that Cilic did not reach the semifinals. He won titles in Chennai and Zagreb including a win over Melzer in the semis. He also made it to his first Grand Slam semifinals at the Australian Open.

"Of course, it's a little bit disappointing. I think that I could go a little bit further," the sixth-seeded Cilic said. "I had my chance to make something and to win a few more matches. But also, the other guy played well. Melzer deserved it."

Melzer advanced to his second semifinal of the year.

"Well, to be honest, I think I was a little lucky to hold serve at 4-1," he said. "He played really fantastic from when he just started the match. But after that I mixed it up a little bit, played a little serve-and-volley and served better."

Melzer will face seventh-seeded Mikhail Youzhny, who beat Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4.

Tipsarevic, a day after upsetting Andy Murray, was never in contention against Youzhny. He was 0-for-3 in break-chance opportunities.

"I knew he would be a little tired after last night's tough match against Murray, so I just wanted to make him run a bit," Youzhny said. "The plan seems to have worked."