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Benneteau Stuns Federer To Reach SFs; Simon Up Next

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Benneteau© Henk KosterJulien Benneteau recorded his second win over Federer.

World No. 39 Julien Benneteau defeated Roger Federer for the second time in his career on Friday evening as he topped the 17-time Grand Slam champion 6-3, 7-5 in the quarter-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

“Today, I knew I could do it because I had already done it in Bercy. I had to do a lot of good things,” said Benneteau. “I prepared myself to play my game, not to try to play better than I can, but to be aggressive when I could. I needed to show physically and mentally I was here and that I wanted it.”

The Frenchman has given Federer stern tests before, beating the Swiss in three sets at the 2009 BNP Paribas Masters and taking him to five sets in the third round of Wimbledon last year. He pulled their FedEx ATP Head2Head back to 2-4 as he ousted the defending Rotterdam champion in 80 minutes, notching his 200th match win in the process.

“I heard that but I did not know,” Benneteau said. “It’s a special one. It’s nice when the numbers fit with a very good win. So I will remember this.”

Benneteau surrendered an early break advantage in the first set, but regained the lead as Federer hit a forehand wide down break point in the seventh game. Benneteau then made sure of the set with a second service break in the ninth game. Federer rallied from a 1-4 deficit in the second set and had chances to break for a 6-5 lead. He could not convert, though, and was broken decisively by Benneteau in the 12th game.

The No. 2-ranked Federer was playing his first tournament since reaching the Australian Open semi-finals (l. to Murray) last month. He was bidding for a hat-trick of titles in Rotterdam, having lifted the trophy in 2005 (d. Ljubicic) and 2012 (d. del Potro).

The 31-year-old Benneteau is through to his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season, after reaching the last four at the Apia International Sydney (l. to Anderson). He is bidding to win his first ATP World Tour title after seven runner-up finishes.

On Saturday, Benneteau faces countryman Gilles Simon. The fifth seed led Martin Klizan 6-7(6), 6-3, 3-0 when the Slovakian retired from their quarter-final meeting with cramping.

The 14th-ranked Simon is through to his first semi-final in 2013, having reached the quarter-finals in Brisbane (l. to Baghdatis) and Montpellier (l. to Paire) and the fourth round at the Australian Open (l. to Murray). He has won three of his five meetings with Benneteau. 

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