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Melzer sends Federer packing in Monte Carlo

ESPN staff
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Monte Carlo Masters seedings

Roger Federer was sent crashing out of the Monte Carlo Masters after being overpowered by Jurgen Melzer in the quarter-finals.

Melzer required medical attention on a back problem early in the match, but showed no signs of pain as he sealed his place in the semi-finals with a 6-4 6-4 victory. Federer, seeded second in the absence of Novak Djokovic, denied the crowds any chance of seeing a dream final between the Swiss and world No. 1 and six-time defending champion Rafael Nadal, who cruised into the semi-finals.

Melzer saved four break points, while converting his only opportunity to take the opening set, before snatching an early break in the second. However, he was forced to cling onto his advantage after a Federer onslaught as the world No. 3 desperately tried to claw his way back into the match.

But the Austrian held his nerve to serve out for the match and pumped his fist in delight as Federer's backhand return found the net.

Melzer will now meet David Ferrer for a place in the final after the fourth seed enjoyed a routine 6-3 6-3 victory over Viktor Troicki. After an early exchange of breaks in the opening set, Ferrer snatched the advantage with a volley down the line and his clay court expertise proved key as he booked his place in the last four.

Another player who is clearly relishing the return to the red dirt is world No. 1 Nadal, who is closing in on a record seventh straight title in Monte Carlo after blazing past Ivan Ljubicic 6-1 6-3.

Nadal extended his clay streak to 25 matches, but after an early break he was pegged back immediately by Ljubicic, who had already claimed the scalp of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych.

But after the first three games went against serve in the blustery conditions, Nadal settled into his rhythm and powered to the opening set. Ljubicic provided some resistance in the second set, but he had little answer to the defending champion, who claimed his 35th consecutive victory at the tournament.

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