Rotterdam: Ivan Ljubicic needed 18 aces and two tiebreaks to post a win over Marcos Baghdatis on Friday, advancing 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4) against the Cypriot into the semi-finals of the ATP Rotterdam tournament.
Ljubicic, who played the 2005 final against Roger Federer at the Ahoy stadium, renewed his long-ago promise to buy every fan in the stands a drink should he reach another Dutch title match and claim the victory.
"It's a long way but I'm sticking to my promise," said the 15th-ranked Croatian, owner of ten career trophys and loser in four of five meetings with Baghdatis.
"But the stadium has 5,000 more seats than it did back then," he joked in reference to a 2010 overhaul which added around 1,500 places in the hall.
Ljubicic is unworried by the extra rest time enjoyed by upcoming opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who advanced without stepping onto court when fourth-seeded opponent Tomas Berdych retired before their match with influenza.
"It's early in the afternoon," said Ljubicic, seeded seventh, after he put out Baghdatis in just under two-and-a-half hours.
"I'll have plenty of time to rest.
"I know we will both go for our shots, it should be a great match."
The Croatian won the first set against Baghdatis after overcoming a few early errors and profitting from miscues from his opponent.
"It was a strange match, I knew I had to take a lot of risk. I didn't start great but he gave me two double-faults in the third game.
"In the second-set tiebreak I missed some shots that I should not have. It was a great win for me after losing four times before to him, it was nice to show my best tennis."
The seventh seed improved to 17-8 in Rotterdam, where he played finals in 2005 and 2007.
"I'm relaxed these days, but I still want to win matches," said the 31-year-old father of one.
"Things changed a lot for me in 2008, when I had a big injury and we had our son. I felt the best tennis was behind me, so I relaxed and only lived like a tennis player 23 hours a day instead of 24."