Gonzalez fights back to reach China final

BEIJING, Sep 15 (Reuters) Chilean second seed Fernando Gonzalez continued his revival of fortunes when he came from a set down to beat Ivan Ljubicic 2-6 6-3 6-4 and reach the final of the China Open today.

The 27-year-old world number seven prevailed in a little under two hours, despite racking up 23 unforced errors, and will face either Spanish third seed Tommy Robredo or German wildcard Nicolas Kiefer in tomorrow's final.

Gonzalez, a finalist at the Australian Open and Rome Masters this year, will be playing for his first title of the season after coming to Beijing on the back of a four-match losing streak in the US hardcourt season.

''I've been winning here but I think I can play much better,'' Gonzalez said. ''I'm really happy to be winning as that will help me to get back to my best.'' Ljubicic, who needed a third-set tiebreak to down defending champion Marcos Baghdatis late on Friday, was the livelier player in the opening set and secured a break for 4-2 with a sublime backhand crosscourt winner.

The 28-year-old sealed the set with another break after 25 minutes and quickly took a 2-0 lead in the second when Gonzalez, not for the only time in the contest, came to the net only to miscue his shot.

''He's tough to play especially when he's serving well,'' Gonzalez said of the world number 12.

''I had to be more patient and wait a few more balls for the right opportunity.'' Gonzalez has had to dig deep all week to battle through to the last four and he found his range sufficiently to break back immediately.

Ljubicic continued to pressure the world number seven's serve but Gonzalez began to make passing shots count and he grabbed another break to send the match into a decider.

It was the Croatian who made the first move in a cagey third set with a break for 4-3 when Gonzalez once more showed his ineptitude at the net, but the Chilean again rallied to return the favour on the next service game.

Two games later a tired-looking Ljubicic hit the net cord with what looked like a simple forehand to cede the tie and a place in the final to Gonzalez.

''I was very tired,'' Ljubicic said.

''I didn't have enough time to recover. At 6-2 2-0 I was fine but then I lost energy completely and couldn't play my game.'' REUTERS TB BST1426

Story first published: Saturday, September 15, 2007, 15:03 [IST]
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