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Ljubicic on course to defend French title

Defending champion Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia overcame a slow start to beat Taylor Dent in straight sets in the second round of the Open Sud de France yesterday. The fourth seed hit five aces and broke Dent's serve three times as he won 7-5, 6-4.

Ljubicic won the title when the tournament was played in Lyons last year, as well as in 2001. He next plays either Richard Gasquet of France or Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in the quarter-finals.

There were also second-round wins for No 6 seed Albert Montanes of Spain and Gilles Simon of France. Montanes beat Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4, 7-6, and Simon rallied to beat No 8 seed David Nalbandian 3-6, 7-6, 7-5. Although Montanes won in straight sets, the match was close with Llodra hitting 10 aces and forcing Montanes to save four break points in the opener.

Nalbandian served twice for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set against Simon, but the Frenchman broke him to love on the second occasion to force a tie-break and then levelled the match. He broke Nalbandian twice more in the deciding set.

Dmitry Tursunov beat Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the St Petersburg Open.