Masters Cup hopeful Ljubicic knocked out in Lyon

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LYON, France, Oct 27 (Reuters) Ivan Ljubicic stumbled in his bid to qualify for the Masters Cup when he lost 7-5 6-7 7-5 to Colombian Alejandro Falla in the quarter-finals of the Lyon Grand Prix.

The fifth-seeded Croat bowed out after two hours 31 minutes despite serving 30 aces yesterday.

Ljubicic, 14th in the ATP Race rankings, was hoping to improve his position in his attempt to claim one of the eight berths at the end-of-season Masters Cup in Shanghai.

''I have to admit Falla deserved his victory since I did not even have any break chances,'' Ljubicic told reporters. ''I am not in a good position for Shanghai but I will fight as hard as I can in Paris.'' The candidates for the three qualifying spots still up for grabs for next month's Masters Cup will battle it out one last time at the Paris Masters Series next week.

Falla, who is more used to playing at Challenger level, meets last year's finalist Marc Gicquel for a place in tomorrow's final after the Frenchman defeated Argentine qualifier Diego Hartfield 7-5 6-3.

There will be at least one Frenchman in the final since Sebastien Grosjean, who beat Julien Benneteau 6-7 6-2 7-6, will take on the in-form Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga, who has not dropped a set this week, put out Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-3 6-2.

REUTERS BJR RN0946

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