Dubai - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's hopes of earning a repeat encounter with Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Dubai Open were ended by Juan Martin Del Potro, who beat him for the second time in five days on Thursday.
The 2009 US Open champion from Argentina upset the fourth-seeded Frenchman 7-6 (7/1), 6-2, adding to the victory he had over Tsonga in the semi-finals of the Marseille Open on Saturday.
It also earned Del Potro his first win in a completed match against a world top five player in nine tries. And after Tsonga's bad start to the pivotal tie-break it was rarely in doubt.
"To beat Jo again is amazing for me," Del Potro said. "And to do it with different balls, a different surface, and in a different country. But I feel already content with my game."
It is Tsonga's first week as a top five player and he appeared less fresh than Del Potro after their flight from the indoor event in the south of France to make a quick restart in very different outdoor conditions.
Tsonga was 15-40 down in his first service game, only escaping with a struggle, and was within two points of losing the set at deuce on his serve in the tenth game.
Del Potro was landing a high proportion of heavy first serves, finding plenty opportunities to wind up with a ferocious forehand from behind the baseline, and showing what an excellent mover he is for a man six feet six inches tall.
In the tie-break he was helped by a Tsonga double fault on his first service point and never looked back, hurtling to 3-0 and then to 5-0 after his own pair of serves.
After capturing it for the loss of only one point, Del Potro broke again immediately at the start of the second set, and then again to love in the third game. By then Tsonga's best resistance was over.
It was a disappointment for the Swiss-based man from Le Mans, who became the first man ever to beat Federer from two sets down in Grand Slam at last year's Wimbledon.
However, Federer is hardly likely to feel more comfortable against the impressive Del Potro. The Argentine's last victory over a top five player was against him.