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Monte Carlo beginnings, endings

Ivan Ljubicic Retires at 33 after 15 years on tour

April 16, 2012 | 03:33 PM

For some, the first round was of course an ending, not a beginning: Raonic, Young, Gronollers, Stepanek, Chela and Rochus all bit the red brick dust. None came closer than Rochus, who lost 7-5 in the 3rd to Verdasco, who won his first match there since 2010 when he lost in the semis to Rafa. So for 13th seed Nando, it's a badly needed beginning, as it is for #16 seed Dolgopolov and unseeded Tomic.

But for one 33 year old who reached a ranking as high as #3 in 2006, Ivan LJUBICIC, his first round loss to countryman Ivan Dodig, 6-0, 6-3, spelled the ultimate end: retirement. He chose his adopted residence with the most beautiful backdrop of any stadium in the world (in any sport), but was still visibly saddened to say goodbye to his 15 years as a professional player. During his career, which really began when he and several other Bosnian youth players were evacuated from their homeland during the war and taken to train in Italy. He was exceptionally well-liked on the tour, representing players on the ATP council both as VP and President for over 6 years, and received The Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for his work with The Special Oylmpics, as well as an ATP Aces grant for his work with the S.O. in Monaco.

On court, though he won 10 of 14 titles, including Masters Series 1000 events in both singles and doubles, and was Federer's regular final opponent in 2005 before Rafa came along on hard courts, Ljubicic's accomplishments in Davis Cup stand out in his record:

- he is known as a one man wrecking ball by US teams, who lost to him in 3 different ties

- he went 11-1 in Cup competition in '05, beating Agassi, Roddick and the Bryan Bros, and winning the first ever title for Croatia

- in his career he hit 8,138 aces in 8,764 service games, of which he won 85%

TOMORROW: the higher seeds in Joker's half begin (without him - he was busy today getting a medal from his adopted royalty in Monaco, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene starts Wednesday):

- #3 Murray plays Troicki (he's 4-0 and with the Serb)

- #4 Tsonga plays Kohlschreiber (he's 4-1 with the German)

- #11 Monaco plays Haaase (he's 2-1 with the Dutchman)


!st round results, Monte Carlo Maste

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