HAMBURG: In a further sign of his decline, Roger Federer lost to Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) in the semifinals of the German Tennis Championships on Saturday.
Federer, a four-time champion in Hamburg, was outplayed by the No. 114-ranked left-hander who advanced to his first career final.
Federer took a wild card for Hamburg after losing in the second round at Wimbledon.
The 31-year-old Swiss ace has dropped to No. 5, his lowest ranking in a decade. He has won one title this year, on grass in Halle, Germany, before Wimbledon.
Federer lost to No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky - a player who failed to qualify for Hamburg - as the defending Wimbledon champion.
It was his earliest Grand Slam defeat in 10 years, and his first loss to a player ranked outside the top 100 since 2005.
Federer changed his racket after Wimbledon, going for a bigger frame. But he struggled in Hamburg, going to three sets in two of his previous three matches.
Delbonis will play Fabio Fognini of Italy, who moved within one win of his second title in two weeks when he beat third-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (1).
Delbonis was playing only the second semifinal of his career but maintained his composure and gave Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champ, only two break points, one of which he saved.
Fognini won his first career title in Stuttgart last week and is riding a nine-match winning streak.
It was the Italian's 24th win on clay this season. Fognini is the second Italian to reach the final in Hamburg after Adriano Panatta lost to Manuel Orantes in 1972.
Almagro is second in career clay-court titles among active players with 12. Rafael Nadal has 42.