October 24, 2006
Ljubicic, Roddick Qualify for Tennis Masters Cup
Ten players in the hunt for remaining four Shanghai singles berths
Ivan Ljubicic and Andy Roddick, currently third and fourth in the INDESIT ATP 2006 Race, have secured their berths in the prestigious Tennis Masters Cup, to be held at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Stadium from November 12-19. The Croat and American join tennis’ 1-2 tandem of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as singles players to have clinched their place in the elite eight-man circuit finale with less than two weeks remaining in the regular ATP season.
Ljubicic, who paid an advance visit to Shanghai in September, will be making his second consecutive appearance at the Tennis Masters Cup. He went 1-2 in his event debut last year with his two losses coming to Federer and David Nalbandian – the eventual finalist and champion – in the round-robin stage. Roddick will be making his first appearance in Shanghai after withdrawing from last year’s tournament with a back injury. The American finished as a semifinalist in his previous two Tennis Masters Cup appearances, in 2003 and 2004 in Houston.
The 27-year-old Ljubicic is in the midst of a career year, reaching the 60-win plateau for the first time by picking up his third ATP title of the season two weeks ago in Vienna. Ljubicic opened 2006 by winning the Chennai Open title and followed with the inaugural PBZ Zagreb Indoors title in his home country of Croatia. He reached his first career Grand Slam quarterfinals at the Australian Open, and bettered that appearance with a run to the Roland Garros semifinals. Ljubicic leads the circuit with 19 indoor match wins this season.
Roddick is on course to finish in the Top 5 for a fourth consecutive year, vaulting up the Race standings with a 18-2 record during the North American summer circuit after he enlisted the services of former World No. 1 Jimmy Connors. The 24-year-old American clinched the US Open Series title for the second straight year by winning his first title of 2006 at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and followed by reaching the US Open final.
Ljubicic’s qualification was confirmed when Spaniard Tommy Robredo, No. 8 in the Race standings, lost his first round match Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Open. Roddick secured his berth shortly afterwards when Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, No. 10 in the INDESIT ATP 2006 Race, fell to Frenchman Arnaud Clement in Lyon.
Robredo and Baghdatis are two of the 10 players still vying for one of the remaining four berths in the elite circuit finale field. Tennis Masters Cup contenders still in action this week include Nalbandian (6th), Fernando Gonzalez (9th) and David Ferrer (14th) at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel and Nikolay Davydenko (5th), Mario Ancic (11th), and Tommy Haas (12th) at the St. Petersburg Open.
Gonzalez has finished as the runner-up in his last two tournament appearances and can leapfrog Robredo and No. 7 James Blake in the Race standings by successfully defending his Basel crown. The Chilean plays his first match Wednesday against Italian Simone Bolelli. Ancic, who won his St. Petersburg opener Tuesday, can move ahead of Baghdatis and within 23 points of Robredo by finishing the week with the title.
Next week’s winner at the BNP Paribas Masters, the final tournament of the regular 2006 circuit, will add 100 Race points to his season total.