KUALA LUMPUR - Unseeded Portuguese player Joao Sousa clinched his first ever victory over a top five player when he defeated top seed David Ferrer in the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open on Friday.
Sousa, given special exemption from the organisers to skip the qualifying rounds after reaching the semi-finals in St. Petersburg last weekend, justified their faith in him by beating Ferrer 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in 98 minutes.
The 24-year-old was denied a match point opportunity when he served for victory at 5-4 in the second set, before rallying from a 4-6 deficit in the tie-break.
"I've never beaten a top 10 player before, let alone someone in the top five. This without doubt is my biggest victory," said the 77th-ranked player.
A dejected Ferrer said he hopes to bounce back at next week's China Open.
"Obviously it's disappointing to have failed again in this tournament, but congratulations to Joao for his victory. He's such a solid player with a good forehand," said the world number four.
"I didn't play well in the first set. I made a lot of mistakes while in the second."
Ferrer, who was making his fourth appearance in this tournament, has never gone beyond the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur.
He was knocked out in the first round in 2009 and reached the semis in 2010. He was also a quarter-finalist last year.
The result leaves Swiss world number 10 Stanislas Wawrinka as the favourite to lift the title.