Seppi ends Ljubicic's Vienna hat-trick bid

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VIENNA, Oct 12 (Reuters) Ivan Ljubicic's bid for a third successive Vienna Open title came to an abrupt end today when the third seed was dumped out in the quarter-finals by Italy's Andreas Seppi.

Seppi, the 23-year-old world number 73, broke the defending champion and world number 13 three times without reply to register a surprisingly one-sided 6-3 6-3 win.

Croatian Ljubicic won the Vienna title in 2005 and 2006 and had never previously been beaten in the Austrian capital.

''He probably made more unforced errors than normal today but hopefully one of the reasons for that was that I was able to put him under some pressure,'' Seppi said.

The Italian, who will face either top seed Novak Djokovic or seventh seed Juan Ignacio Chela in Saturday's semi-finals, appears to have a fondness for playing close to home.

A native German-speaker from the Austrian-bordering South Tyrol region of Italy, Seppi had reached only two previous ATP quarter-finals this season -- at Austria's Kitzbuehel tournament and the Swiss Open in Gstaad.

In Gstaad he went on to reach the only ATP final of his career so far, losing in three sets to France's Paul-Henri Mathieu.

As well as ending Ljubicic's successful run in Vienna, Seppi's unexpected victory dealt a major blow to the Croatian's hopes of reaching the season-ending Masters Cup.

Although only 14th in the race for the prestigious tournament's eight qualifying spots, Ljubicic trailed eighth-placed Spaniard Tommy Robredo by just 13 points going into this week's events.

''Seppi played fantastic tennis today,'' the departing champion acknowledged.

''Nothing I was trying out there seemed to work but I can assure you I was doing all I could to get back in the match.'' Reuters SSC DB2101

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