Roger Federer will not be a repeat champion in Rotterdam after being stunned by Frenchman Julien Benneteau in Friday's quarterfinal action at the $1.7 million ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
The 39th-ranked Benneteau bounced the 31-year-old top-seeded Federer 6-3, 7-5 in 80 minutes on the indoor hardcourts at Ahoy Rotterdam. Benneteau broke the world No. 2 Federer's serve five times en route to the upset.
Federer rallied from a 1-4 deficit in the second set and had chances to break for a 6-5 lead, but he could not convert, however, and was broken decisively by Benneteau in the 12th game.
The 31-year-old Benneteau is now 2-4 lifetime against the 17-time Grand Slam king and Swiss icon Federer, with the other win coming at the 2009 Paris Masters.
The former world No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon champion Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro in last year's marquee finale here and also titled in Rotterdam in 2005.
Up next for Benneteau will be countryman Gilles Simon. The fifth-seeded Simon lost a tiebreak (6-8) to Martin Klizan, but recovered to take the second set 6-3 and was leading 3-0 when cramps forced the Slovakian to retire.
Saturday's other semifinal will pit a second-seeded del Potro against rising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
The former U.S. Open champion del Potro pulled within one victory of reaching a second straight Rotterdam final by handling Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4, while Dimitrov came from behind to best former Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-0), 6-3. Dimitrov actually won 18 straight points against Baghdatis at the end of the second set on Day 5.