Ivan Ljubicic reaches quarterfinals

MONTPELLIER, France -- Defending champion Ivan Ljubicic overcame a slow start to beat Taylor Dent 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday in the second round of the Open Sud de France.

The fourth-seeded Ljubicic, who dropped his serve once in the opening set, had five aces and broke the American's serve three times.

Ljubicic won the title when the tournament was played in Lyon last year and in 2001. He will play Jarkko Nieminen in the quarterfinals. No. 6 Albert Montanes and Gilles Simon also advanced.

Montanes beat Michael Llodra 6-4, 7-6 (5), and Simon rallied past No. 8 David Nalbandian 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Gael Monfils had five aces in a win that took little more than an hour and will face No. 5 John Isner of the United States.

The huge-serving Isner needs only one more ace Friday to reach 1,000 for the season. The 25-year-old American has already served 346 aces more than his previous best last season when he reached 653.

Against Nieminen, Gasquet lost serve straight away and trailed 2-0 but then broke the Finn twice to take the first set.

Gasquet seemed in control when he led 6-4 in the second-set tiebreak but Nieminen saved two match points in winning the next four points to level the match. Gasquet lost when he was broken for the third time in the match.

Nalbandian served twice for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set. Simon broke him to love on the second occasion to force a tiebreak and then leveled the match. He broke Nalbandian twice more in the deciding set.

Although Montanes won in straight sets, the match was closely contested with Llodra hitting 10 aces and forcing Montanes to save four break points in the opener.

In Friday's other quarterfinals, Montanes takes on top seed Nikolay Davydenko, while Simon faces No. 2 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.