MELBOURNE: Former Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic suffered a brusque reversal of form Thursday to crash out of the Kooyong Classic 6-1, 6-2 at the hands of Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
But the Serb was far from concerned, happy that he got in a pair of solid matches at the eight-man special event in preparation for the first grand slam of 2010, beginning Monday.
The victory sends on-form Verdasco into a Saturday final against the winner of a Friday contest between US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro and 2008 Melbourne finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
In relegation matches, Chile's Fernando Gonzalez handed German Tommy Haas a second defeat in as many days, 6-2, 6-4.
Croatian Ivan Ljubicic benefitted when Sweden's Robin Soderling retired with a sore right shoulder after losing their opening set 6-4.
"The results didn't even matter," said world number three Djokovic, who defeated Haas emphatically on Wednesday's opening day.
"The main point is to get a good practice and get points and gains before the Australian Open, which is my main priority.
"I didn't feel good on the court, he played well but I made way too many unforced errors."
Djokovic's loss ended a run of five straight victories against 2009 Open semi-finalist Verdasco.
Verdasco admitted he was surprised by his easy victory, adding that the traditional swirling wind of the Kooyong club was a problem for both players.
"We all know that here every day is pretty windy. It is not easy for everybody, but I was feeling pretty good.
"I was trying to control the conditions and just give my 100 percent and be the best as possible for the Australian Open. That's the goal.
"You never go to the court, especially with a guy like Novak Djokovic and think you are going to win 6-1, 6-2."