World No. 6 and third seed Carlos Moya of Spain was beaten by fifth seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 on Friday at the US$550,000 Thailand Open tennis tournament.
Moya's countryman, world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, had to work hard to escape the same fate, struggling at times to defeat an inspired Gregory Carraz of France 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2) at the Impact Arena in the Bangkok suburb of Nonthaburi.
In the day's last single's match, home team fans were crestfallen when sixth-seeded Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia stunned Thailand's fourth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
Ljubicic, the world No. 45, showed his mettle in long baseline rallies with Paradorn, the world No. 11, and by winning the more-than-two-hour contest earned a semifinal fight against Ferrero.
Ljubicic had lost to Paradorn in their two previous outings, but Paradorn had been shaky since the start of this week's tournament, evidenced most dramatically when he was shut out 6-0 in the first set of his first round match on Wednesday before rallying to beat Vladamir Voltchkov of Belarus.
He told reporters afterward that playing before a crowd of hometown fans put extra pressure on him.
Finland's Nieminen was set to play Taylor Dent of the US in the semifinal Saturday. Dent was leading Nicolas Thomann 6-3 Friday when the Frenchman withdrew with a right foot injury.
Nieminen led the first set 6-5 on set point before Moya fought back to force the tie-break.
The pair slugged it out over the next two sets, delivering powerful groundstroke rallies.
In the final set, Nieminen broke Moya right from the start to lead 3-1, but the stubborn Moya broke back to draw level at 3-3. At 4-4, Nieminen took the fourth break point opportunity for a 5-4 lead, before Moya hit a backhand out of court to lose the set 4-6.
"I was satisfied with the way I played from the first point," Nieminen said. "I could have won in two sets but it didn't matter now that I have won. I tried to concentrate and play more aggressive in the last two sets."
Ferrero won his first set 6-4 in 34 minutes but Carraz, the world No. 85, served and volleyed effectively to take the second set 6-3 in 41 minutes to force the third set.
Carraz broke the top-seeded Spaniard in the eighth game of the final set to lead 5-3, and was serving for the match at 5-4. Ferrero fired several fine passing shots to break back at 5-5, and sharpened up his game in the tie-break to take the set 7-6 (2) and win the match.
"He played 100 percent all the time," Ferrero said of his French opponent. "I didn't have time to relax. After the first set I had problems with his serves. I had to play 100 percent too ... but he was nervous serving for the match in the third set. I was very concentrated."
Agassi bows out
Andre Agassi withdrew from next month's Stockholm Open and two other European tennis tournaments to spend the time with his wife, former German tennis great Steffi Graf, who is expecting the couple's second child in mid-November, officials said Friday.
"His agent, Perry Rogers, called us today, and obviously we're very disappointed," said Stockholm Open Tournament Director Per Hjertquist. "However, neither we nor anybody else are in a position to criticize Agassi for taking time off to be with his family."
The Stockholm Open is scheduled for Oct. 20-26 at the Royal Tennis Hall. Agassi played only once in the Stockholm Open, one of the world's oldest indoor tournaments. He lost to eventual finalist Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia after a narrow 10-8 score in the final-set tiebreak in 1994, when the event was held at the Globe Arena.