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Federer battered by Benneteau

ESPN staff
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Julien Benneteau turned his ability to frustrate Roger Federer into victory in Rotterdam © Getty Images
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Defending champion Roger Federer was beaten in straight sets 6-3 7-5 by Frenchman Julien Benneteau at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

World No. 2 Federer was broken five times by his No. 39-ranked opponent at the indoor tournament - an event the 2012 Wimbledon champion has won twice before.

Federer cruised through his first two matches in the Netherlands yet he simply had no answer to his fellow 31-year-old's tenacity in their quarter-final.

Benneteau took Federer to five sets in the third round at Wimbledon last year and improved his head-to-head statistics with the 17-time grand slam champion with this win, making it now read 4-2 to the Swiss player.

At 4-1 up in the second set Federer was on the ropes but he came back to earn chances of taking a 6-5 lead yet he could not convert. Benneteau took his opportunity to break in the 12th game and his win sets up a tie with either compatriot Gilles Simon or Martin Klizan.

Juan Martin del Potro lost to Federer in last year's final and, as the top seed left in the draw, is well poised to go one better this year. The big Argentine looks in good shape too as he beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 6-4 in 90 minutes.

"It was a difficult win, he's a lefty and hit his shots differently," Del Potro said. "He was fighting all the time and I had to play my best game to go through."

Awaiting the 2009 US Open champion in the semi-finals is the unseeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov, 41 in the world, beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-7(7) 7-6(0) 6-3 despite converting only two of his 13 break points.

In a match which went over the two-and-a-half-hour mark, Baghdatis tried to stage a third set comeback and saved a match point in the eighth game but in the next game Dimitrov sealed the win.

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