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Malek Jaziri makes history in Istanbul, becomes first Arab ATP finalist since 2003

Tunisian Malek Jaziri became the first Arab since Younes El Aynaoui in Casablanca 2003 to reach an ATP final thanks to an impressive victory on Saturday against Laslo Djere in Istanbul.

Reem Abulleil 2018/05/05

Tunisian Malek Jaziri became the first Arab since Younes El Aynaoui in Casablanca 2003 to reach an ATP final thanks to an impressive victory on Saturday against Laslo Djere in Istanbul.

The 34-year-old booked his place in his maiden final with a 6-3, 6-2 success over Djere, to set up a showdown with Japan’s Taro Daniel, who is also a first-time finalist on tour.

Jaziri was 0-3 in career semi-finals heading into Saturday’s clash but showed no signs of nerves against his Serbian opponent.

The world No. 78 is now looking to become the first Arab since El Aynaoui in 2002 to claim an ATP title.

“I’m really happy to make my first final. I’ve been working really hard for this, improving every week,” Jaziri told Sport360 after his win.

“I hope to make all Arabs and Tunisians happy and get the win tomorrow. Tunisia went through tough times and it’s great to be able to bring a smile to people’s faces back home. I was amazed by the reaction in Tunisia after I beat Marin Cilic two days ago. I hope to keep going, the job is not done yet.”

Jaziri defeated world No. 4 Marin Cilic on Thursday in the second round in Istanbul, to claim a second top-10 victory this season.


His first was a win over Grigor Dimitrov in Dubai en route to the semi-finals in February. He almost defeated Dimitrov again in Barcelona last week, holding two match points against the Bulgarian before falling in three sets.

“I’ve been playing good tennis since a few weeks now,” said Jaziri. “I’ve been working hard with my coach. I’ve been able to travel with a coach and a fitness trainer all season and we’re developing my game and my fitness each day.

“These wins over Marin and Grigor are very important. I showed my level, that I can beat these guys. In the past I was missing some confidence in these kind of matches but now I showed what I’m capable of. I was close to beating Grigor again in Barcelona.

“But anyway there is still work to be done. I’ll keep working hard. I’m happy but it’s fine, it’s still not over yet.”

Jaziri wrapped up his win over Djere in one hour and 31 minutes.

“Today I tried to be focused from the very beginning. He was playing good. It wasn’t easy because I’m tired, played two hours yesterday, three hours the day before. And the conditions were heavy too because of the rain. I’m happy I got through,” he said.

Jaziri has never played Daniel before but says he has watched him play a bit.

“He’s a baseliner who likes to run a lot. Hopefully I can win,” said the North African.

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Arab Tennis Watch Istanbul Open Laslo Djere Malek Jaziri Younes El Aynaoui