Ljubicic stops Roddick
Ivan Ljubicic had been in big finals before and always lost. Then getting beat in the first round in five consecutive tournaments last year had him thinking about doing something else.
"I had my problems, like everybody else," he said.
All that was forgotten Sunday when the Croatian outlasted Andy Roddick, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), in a battle of big servers to win the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., earning his first ATP Masters 1000 title after three runner-up finishes.
Ljubicic set up his fourth match point with the last of his 20 aces, then won with a serve that Roddick couldn't return. At 31, Ljubicic is the second-oldest winner at Indian Wells behind Jimmy Connors, who was five months older as the 1984 champion.
"It was really a mind game," he said. "When you have two big serves, not a lot of rallies happening, it's a very mental match. I was fortunate enough to be more relaxed by the end of the match."
Roddick was trying to become the first American man to win at Indian Wells since 2001, but he trailed in both tiebreakers. He had beaten Ljubicic seven times in 10 meetings, winning their last match at Indian Wells in two tiebreakers in 2007.
"I felt like I was winning my fair share of the rallies once we got into them," he said. "I just ran into a guy who served great on the big points. Unfortunately that's probably the one thing that I don't have control over out there."
Jelena Jankovic had a much easier time in the women's final, defeating Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2, 6-4, for her first title in seven months.
Protest hits Aqueduct
Hour Glass, the 3-5 favorite, rallied to beat Lights Off Annie by 1 1/2 lengths in the $60,000 Wheel Turns Stakes on an Aqueduct card shortened by one race because of a horsemen's protest.
A 4-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher, Hour Glass won a stakes race for the first time and improved her record to 4 for 7. David Cohen was aboard in the race for fillies and mares. The winner ran the six furlongs in 1:09.94 on the fast track.
Hour Glass paid $3.30, $2.20 and $2.20. Lights Off Annie returned $5.20 and $3.60. By the Light paid $5.20 to show.
Aqueduct canceled the first race when trainers refused to bring horses to the security barn by the 8 a.m. deadline. Horses for the remaining races arrived on schedule and the track started the day with the second race.
The horsemen were upset by the failure to select an operator for Aqueduct's video lottery terminals. Last month, the Aqueduct Entertainment Group was chosen to run the slots operation at the track. The deal quickly fell apart in a political fight.
Around & about
*Brian Kretzer of Dayton, Ohio, ended his 167-event winless streak Sunday, defeating 13-time Professional Bowlers Association title winner Patrick Allen, 629-566, in the three-game title match of the PBA Go RVing Match Play Championship in Norwich, Conn.
*University at Buffalo Athletic Hall of Famers Todd Miller and Ken White defeated Mark Ahrens and Barry Olsen, 6-3, 6-3, to win the Buffalo Tennis Series Men's 30-and-over doubles championship at the Miller Tennis Center in Amherst.
*Olympians Sarah Schleper and Tommy Ford won slalom titles at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Whiteface Mountain. The win for the 31-year-old Schleper, a four-time Olympian, continued a comeback to the U.S. Ski Team that began two years ago after the birth of her son, Lasse.
From News and wire service reports.