Stockholm (Reuters) - World number two Roger Federer overcame an early break of serve to defeat Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 6-2 in the semi-finals of the Stockholm Open on Saturday.
The Swiss will meet German Florian Mayer, who beat Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 4-6 6-4 7-6, in Sunday’s final.
The big-hitting Ljubicic started strongly before Federer broke back to take the first set on a tie-break.
He then gained an early advantage in the second when a lucky bounce off the net cord helped him convert a break point.
“It was mentally very difficult to deal with that,” Ljubicic told Swedish TV.
Federer said he had enjoyed a slice of luck but added he had felt his opponent had tried to force his game too much and had started to make too many errors.
”(In the first set) I had a tough service game that didn’t really work well. I missed a couple of shots, next thing you know you’re down break point.
”I missed another stupid forehand because I was still lacking rhythm and that’s how it goes against big servers.
“He was serving well when he had to, doing all the right things and he really made it hard for me. He gave me a couple of chances, I was able to take them and then played a really good tie-breaker.”
In the other semi-final, Mayer saved five set points on his serve in the first set before Nieminen finally converted the sixth.
Mayer, ranked 47th in the world, then upped his game to take the second and set up a tense climax in the third.
Editing by John Mehaffey