Kuala Lumpur: Top seed and world number five David Ferrer was given a rude shock in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open on Saturday when Frenchman Julien Benneteau thrashed him in straight sets.
Ferrer, who looked sluggish from the start, had no answer to Benneteau's power play and fell 6-4, 6-1 in 97 minutes.
Benneteau, who had lost his six previous finals this year, will have the chance to break his duck on Sunday when he takes on second seed Juan Monaco in the final of the US$947,750 tennis tournament.
Monaco was given a scare by third seed Kei Nishikori before winning 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4).
"I was talking to my coach earlier today and told him I have not beaten a top 10 player this year," said a delighted Benneteau.
"It was a close match at the beginning but I found my form in the second set to get the victory. I had some problems with my second serves and will have to correct that in the final."
A disappointed Ferrer said: "I gave it my all today but Julien was just too good. I have my chances in the first set but failed to capitalise. The second set was actually quite close, despite the score.
"He just took his chances to close out the match."
The semi-final started with multiple service breaks, with Ferrer guilty of committing unforced errors before the hard hitting Benneteau took control of the match with some punishing groundstrokes.
The normally mobile Ferrer was caught flatfooted on many occasions but he denied his two late night matches on Thursday and Friday was the reason behind his loss.
"I'm fine, don't worry. Physically I have no issues and playing late matches is part of tennis," said Ferrer. "Julien was on form today and deserved to win."
Earlier, Monaco survived three match points before beating Nishikori in three sets.
Nishikori, who called for the trainer when he was 5-2 down in the first set, came back strongly despite a troublesome right ankle, but didn't have enough in the tank to secure victory.
He was also a losing semi-finalist in this tournament a year ago.