Rafael Nadal beaten by Ivan Ljubicic

Defending champion Rafael Nadal missed out on a place in the final of the BNP Paribas Open after going down in three sets to Ivan Ljubicic.

The Croatian, seeded 20, beat the third seed 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7/1) in two hours 34 minutes in the semi-final tie in Indian Wells.

He fired down 17 aces, including eight in the decider, to move within a match of the title.

There was little sign of an upset when the Spaniard broke twice to take the opening set, his opponent having real trouble on his second serve, winning just 18% of points on it.

Ljubicic dug in, though, saving five break points in the second set and taking one of his two to level the match.

Nadal’s serve was starting to falter, his 65% first serves in the opening set falling to 48% in the second.

There was a break apiece in the third, Nadal recovering from dropping his serve early on, but it was Ljubicic who seized the initiative when it mattered in the tie-break to send Nadal crashing out.

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