DUBAI - World No 9 Marin Cilic became the fifth seed to bow out of the Dubai tennis championships when Austria's Jurgen Melzer beat him 7-6 7-5 yesterday.
With world No 1 Roger Federer and former US 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 lustre.
Melzer, 28, gained swift revenge for his semifinal defeat by Cilic at the Zagreb Indoors earlier this month.
"There were very tough conditions, with hot weather and the balls flying," said Melzer, who will play Russia's Mikhail Youzhny or Serbian Janko Tipsarevic in today's semifinals.
"I kept my game together after being 4-1 down and then played an almost perfect match."
Cilic, 21, was a strong favourite going into the quarterfinal 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."
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 match point with a forehand winner. The Croatian then hit a backhand long to end the contest. - Reuters