By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - World number nine Marin Cilic became the fifth seed to go out of the Dubai tennis championships when he lost 7-6 7-5 to Austria's Jurgen Melzer on Thursday.
In another quarter-final clash, Russia's Mikhail Youzhny beat Serbian Janko Tipsarevic 6-3 6-4 to set up a last-four meeting with Melzer on Friday.
With world number one Roger Federer and former U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick withdrawing before the start of the tournament and the early exits of Briton Andy Murray and fellow seeds Nikolay Davydenko, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, the Dubai event has lost its luster.
Melzer, 28, gained swift revenge for his semi-final defeat by Cilic at the Zagreb Indoors earlier this month.
"There were very tough conditions, with hot weather and the balls flying," said Melzer. "I kept my game together after being 4-1 down and then played an almost perfect match."
Cilic, 21, was heavy favorite going into the quarter-final, after winning two tournaments already this year.
The Croatian lost only three points in his opening three service games and went a break up but Melzer saved two break points in his next service game before a wide Cilic forehand gave the left-hander a break back.
"I was hitting the ball well and serving good," said Cilic. "Then I had a little bit of a rushed game on my serve and I lost three or four points in a row. From there, he started to play better. Melzer deserved it."
Cilic had a set point at 7-6 in the tiebreak, but Melzer hit a cross-court winner and went on to take the tiebreak 10-8 with an ace.
Cilic changed to a more aggressive game but was unable to stop the Austrian getting to matchpoint with a forehand winner. The Croatian then hit a backhand long to end the contest.
Youzhny wrapped up a routine victory over a jaded Tipsarevic, who a day earlier had beaten third seed Murray in three sets.
"I took a little bit advantage of Janko because he had a very tough match last night," said the Russian. "And I finished a little better than him."
The world number 15 has been troubled by wrist and hamstring injuries, but he converted two of his three break points to make the last four of the Dubai event for the fourth time.
(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Justin Palmer)