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August 16, 2009

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Federer collapses, Nadal crashes out in Montreal

ROGER Federer suffered a stunning collapse and Rafael Nadal's creaky knees weren't strong enough to carry him into the semifinals as the world's top two players crashed out of the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Friday.

With the world's eight top-ranked players featuring in the quarterfinals of an ATP Tour event for the first time since official rankings began in 1973, ticket-holders looked forward to a spectacular day of tennis and were not disappointed.

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's dramatic 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (3) comeback win over Swiss world No. 1 Federer set the pace before towering Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro ended Nadal's Montreal title defense with a clinical 7-6 (5), 6-1 win.

Apart from losing the match and the championship, the Spaniard may yet lose his world No. 2 ranking tomorrow if Briton Andy Murray, who cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 quarterfinal victory over Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, can reach the final.

In other quarterfinal, fifth-seeded Andy Roddick recovered from a second-set service break to down Serbia's Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-6 (4) and will next face del Potro.

With Federer playing his first tournament since lifting a record 15th grand slam title at Wimbledon, and Nadal back in action after being sidelined for more than two months with knee tendonitis, there was already little hope the two could renew their great rivalry on the Canadian hardcourts.

Seventh-ranked Tsonga ended any chance of a dream final, rallying from 1-5 down in the third set to hand the Swiss one of his most stunning defeats.

In Mason, Ohio, Kim Clijsters's brilliant comeback after two years off the tour came to an end at the Cincinnati Open on Friday when she lost 2-6, 5-7 to world No. 1 Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals.

Former world No. 1 Clijsters led 2-0 in the first set and 4-1 in the second but could not press home the advantage as Russian Safina powered her way into the last four.

The Belgian 26-year-old launched her "second career" by beating Marion Bartoli, Patty Schnyder and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova on the way to the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, Safina will meet Italian 14th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy, who beat unseeded Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3.


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