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Japan's Taro Daniel survives a three-set battle against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in Istanbul to reach his first ATP World Tour final.

Determined Daniel Breaks Through In Istanbul

Jaziri sails past Djere in second semi-final

Japan’s Taro Daniel shocked the tennis world at Indian Wells when he ousted Novak Djokovic in the second round. And now, two months later, he is into his maiden ATP World Tour final.

Daniel defeated Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 on Saturday at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open in a gritty two-hour, 33-minute encounter that saw a combined 10 breaks of serve.

Daniel got off to an emphatic start to the match, claiming the first set with two breaks of the Chardy serve, which wavered under the constant pressure of Daniel’s returning prowess. The second set was a different story, as Chardy upped his level and began dictating with his heavy forehand groundstrokes to even the contest at a set apiece.

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The final set was a seesaw affair featuring four straight breaks, a run that was eventually stopped by the Japanese in the crucial ninth game. Daniel was able to fend off three break points to hold serve, before breaking Chardy one last time in the following game to claim the win.

"I’m very happy, but more relieved because there was a lot of tension in the last few games," said the 25-year-old. "The first set I played really well; second set – maybe I could have finished in two sets because I was playing a little bit better than him today."

“You never know what’s going to happen in tennis," added Daniel on what he expects for Sunday's final. "It could be a really easy match, I could lose easily, win easily; win tough, lose tough. It’s more important to think about how to recover the best I can for tomorrow."

The World No. 114’s victory ends Chardy’s bid for his first tour-level title since 2009, while Daniel himself will look to become the first Japanese titlist since Yuichi Sugita in Antalya last season when he faces Malek Jaziri in the final, guaranteeing a first-time ATP World Tour champion.

Jaziri earned his shot at the title with a straight-sets win over Serbian Laslo Djere in Saturday's second semi-final. The Tunisian earned the 6-3, 6-2 decision in one hour, 31 minutes, using his variety to reach his maiden ATP World Tour final

At 34 years old, Jaziri has put together one of his most noteworthy seasons in 2018. Earlier this year in Dubai, he claimed his first Top 10 victory over Grigor Dimitrov, which he followed up this week by defeating top-seeded Marin Cilic en route to the final.

“It’s a dream come true. I’m really happy to be here," said Jaziri. "I’ve already won two Challengers here. This one is different, it’s an ATP [World Tour] final. There’s still one more match. I’m really focused on the match. I’m really happy for all the people on my team and my family as well."

Did You Know?

Four unseeded players advanced to the Istanbul semi-finals, the second time that has happened on the ATP World Tour this year (also Delray Beach).
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