Canada's Milos Raonic boasts one of the strongest power games on the men's tennis tour.
On Friday night, his game was undone by an unseeded opponent who picked his style apart.
Spain's Feliciano Lopez eliminated Raonic from the Rogers Cup with a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 quarter-final victory in front of a surprised crowd at Rexall Centre. Raonic, the No. 6 seed from Thornhill, Ont., struggled early and was hampered by unforced errors on the stadium showcourt.
Raonic hung in there despite his inconsistency but couldn't convert one of the nine break point opportunities he had in a pivotal 12-minute game midway through the deciding set. Lopez later picked up a break before closing out the win.
"I just need to show in a few situations more courage and go for it a little bit more," Raonic said. "Not just that third set but all throughout the match."
Raonic's trademark rocket serve was still a weapon but his rhythm on the baseline was affected by Lopez's unique style. The crafty left-handed Spaniard mixed things up with cut shots, chip-and-chase strokes and a nice variety of drops and lobs.
The change in pace seemed to handcuff Raonic at times. His ground strokes were still powerful but they were weakened when Lopez forced the Canadian wider on court or made him change his approach.
The Spaniard said he went heavy on his second serves and was fortunate to hang in there in the third set.
"I mean to save nine break points in the same game — even though I played great (for) most of them — I have to get a little bit lucky," Lopez said.
He completed the victory in one hour 57 minutes to quiet the vocal near-capacity crowd.
"Two mistakes, one break and that's it. This is tennis," Lopez said.
Lopez will play Roger Federer of Switzerland in the semifinals on Saturday. The second-seeded Swiss star defeated No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the late quarter-final.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France also reached the final four with a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Britain's Andy Murray. Tsonga will meet seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who outlasted South Africa's Kevin Anderson 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (6).
Raonic relied on his powerful ground strokes but the results were mixed as he sprayed a number of shots and had several mishits.
The 23-year-old right-hander didn't hide his frustration.
At 2-2 and with serve in the opening set, Raonic shouted out in frustration after dropping the first two points of the game. His next shot went long and another mishit gave Lopez the first service break of the match.
Raonic threw an exasperated look at his coach at the changeover and couldn't pull even, with Lopez sealing the set with an overhead smash.
The Canadian came out strong in the second set by taking the first five points. He was still having trouble with the spin on some of Lopez's shots but the pace of the match started to open up with longer rallies.
The players went back and forth with mini-breaks in the tiebreaker. Raonic converted his first set point when Lopez fired a ball long as he tripped while approaching the net.
The Spaniard landed awkwardly on his wrist and could be seen trying to loosen it up before the third set. It apparently wasn't a bother as Lopez was steady on serve and consistent down the stretch.
"He did a good job," Raonic said. "He stepped up and played well in the important moments, especially on his service game."