AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani via Daylife
Andre Agassi wasn’t the only bald tennis-playing daddy making news this weekend. Ivan Ljubicic told his own inspirational story (minus the meth and hair piece), after beating Michael Llodra, 7-5, 6-3 in the finals of the Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon. It was the 30-year-old’s ninth ATP title and his first since winning ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2007.
Ljubicic told reporters that Lyon has a special place in his jaded veteran’s heart:
“It’s a special place for me. I won my first title here in 2001 and here is my first title as a father. It’s my son’s first birthday in four days and it’s the best present I could offer to him.”
The 29-year-old Llodra, who is also a father, had this to say about Ivan’s victory: “I recently played with Ivan in doubles and I called him a grandad. And today the grandad won.” (quotes via tennis.com)
Grandpa Ljuby watches Llodra’s kids. Photo by REUTERS/Robert Pratta (FRANCE SPORT TENNIS) via Daylife
In St. Petersburg, Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky won the second ATP tour title of his career, beating first-time finalist Horacio Zeballos on Sunday: 2-6, 7-6(8), 7-6(7). Coincidentally, Sergiy’s first title came over Ivan Ljubicic last year in Croatia. It’s hard for Safin fans to see a Stakhovsky vs. Zeballos final and not rue Marat’s three-set loss to the Ukrainian in the semifinals. If only Marat had pulled out the win, he would have had a chance to play an inexperienced qualifier in the final! He could have broken his nearly four-year title drought on Russian soil, just a couple weeks before his retirement! He could have used this new-found confidence to win his final tournament in Bercy, announcing during the trophy ceremony that he’s decided to return to tour in 2010 with more ambition and drive than ever!
Or – in a more likely scenario – Safin would have lost to Zeballos in the final and turned his fans’ hearts to dust. So I thank Stakhovsky for saving us from that.
In the third ATP 250 indoor-hardcourt event of the week, hometown hope Jurgen Melzer beat top seed Marin Cilic in the finals of Vienna: 6-4, 6-3. It was the first time an Austrian had won the title since 1988. It’s the second title of the 28-year-old’s career.