De Voest sets up battle against Ljubicic

Fifth seed Rik de Voest won the battle of the South Africans and set up a quarterfinal clash with top seed Ivan Ljubicic at the South African Airways Tennis Open on Wednesday.

De Voest lifted the level of his game from his first-round encounter to beat up-and-coming 21-year-old Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 at the Selborne Park Tennis Stadium in East London.

“I am the number one South African at the moment and I had a lot to lose today [Wednesday]. There was a bit of national pride at stake out there,” said De Voest.

“I knew it was a case of getting the returns back and taking it from there. I don’t have the biggest weapons but I can work out my opponents and see what they don’t like and then try and move them out of their comfort zone.

“But it’s going to be a lot tougher against Ljubicic.
He is a lot more consistent and a lot more accurate. But the fact that he was taken to three sets in his first-round match by a qualifier gives us a bit of confidence.”

The number one seed won through to the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 6-3 7-5 victory over Frenchman Laurent Recouderc. He actually served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but let the chance slip away.

However, Ljubicic quickly rectified his mistake by breaking the Frenchman’s serve and closing out the match.

“It’s going to be a good match against Rik. He has played two big servers and he has beaten them, so I know he returns very well. He’s also playing in front of his home crowd so it will be tough for me. Rankings don’t mean that much anymore. It’s who plays better on the day,” said Ljubicic.

The tournament suffered its first upset on Wednesday when fourth seed Jonas Bjorkman was beaten 6-3 7-5 by Augustin Gensse in a first-round encounter. But in the remaining first-round encounters second seed Stefan Koubek of Austria defeated Johan Brunstorm of Sweden 6-1 6-4, while third seeded Thomas Johansson of Sweden ousted South African wild card entry Raven Klaasen 6-2 6-4.—Sapa

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