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Melzer downs sluggish Federer

MONTE CARLO, April 15 – Jurgen Melzer handed Roger Federer only his fifth loss of the season as the Austrian came through in a virtual sandstorm with a 6-4, 6-4 quarter-final victory Friday at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Federer, a three-time finalist in 2006-2008 against Rafael Nadal, was well off his best form after two superlative previous matches this week in the principality as he began his season on clay.

"It was a tough match for me," said Melzer, seeded seventh. "He beat me three times last year and I didn’t even win a set. But many things went well for me, my shots worked well. When he had break points I was calm and served well.

"I did well on the big points and played my game."

Melzer played only one game at the start before going off court for treatment on an apparent shoulder and neck problem. But the Austrian Roland Garros semi-finalist came back a changed man as he slowly took command of the contest.

Spain’s fourth seed David Ferrer will face Melzer in the semis after defeating Serb Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3.

Federer stand 24-5 this season with his losses coming three times to Novak Djokovic and once to Rafael Nadal before Melzer. Melzer was playing his first Monte Carlo quarter-final.

Federer was plagued by 24 unforced errors while Melzer notched 26. The Swiss was unsuccessful on all serve en of his break points in the challenging conditions.

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