Defending champion Roger Federer suffered a shock 6-3, 7-5 defeat by Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who has yet to lift a tour title during his 13-year career, in the World Indoor Tournament quarter-finals on Friday.
The top seed struggled throughout with his first serve and was broken three times in the opening set.
Benneteau, 31, broke again early in the second set before the world No. 2, backed by a capacity crowd of 10,500, broke back.
Federer had chances to break again in the 11th game, but world No. 39 Benneteau managed to hold him off, before clinching victory on his first match point as a backhand pass from the Swiss went out.
“If you lose your serve five times, like I did today, you can’t win indoors,” Federer told reporters. “Julien played great, created more chances than I did and fully deserved to win. I fought back at the end of the second set and had chances to take it into a third, but that would have been more luck than I deserved.”
Benneteau next meets fellow countryman Gilles Simon, who put out Martin Klizan when the Slovakian retired through injury while trailing 6-7, 6-3, 3-0.
World No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro stayed on course for his second successive appearance in the final by sweeping aside Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4.
The Argentine will play Grigor Dimitrov in the last four after the Bulgarian came from behind to defeat Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 in a thriller.
Dimitrov looked down and out when he trailed 6-5 in the second set, but he then reeled off 18 consecutive points to level the match, before going on to reach his final indoor semi-final.
AFP, SAO PAULO, Brazil
Rafael Nadal advanced to the semi-finals of the Brazil Open late on Friday, with a difficult three-set win over Argentine Carlos Berlocq.
The 26-year-old Spaniard, ranked No. 5 in the world, won his singles quarter-final match 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours 24 minutes against the 30-year old Argentine.
Nadal was due to face off in yesterday’s semi-final against another Argentine, Martin Alund, who earlier on Friday defeated Filippo Volandri of Italy 7-5, 7-6.
In another quarter-final on Friday, Argentine David Nalbandian beat defending champion Nicolas Almagro of Spain.
Nalbandian was to contest yesterday’s other semi-final against Italian Simone Bolelli, who ousted Argentine Juan Monaco.
AP, SAN JOSE, California
Milos Raonic and John Isner stayed on track for a meeting in the final of the SAP Open by blasting their way past their quarter-final opponents in quick time on Friday.
Canada’s Raonic sent down 14 aces in his 7-6 (7/0), 6-3 win over Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.
His semi-final opponent will be American Sam Querrey, who outlasted Colombia’s Alejandro Falla 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.
Isner made it to the San Jose final four for the first time in his career, overpowering Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 with his booming serve.
Next for Isner is another experienced campaigner in Germany’s Tommy Haas, who beat local wild-card Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-2.