Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri caused a major upset on Thursday at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open.
The World No. 78 knocked out top-seeded Croatian and defending champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-2 for the second Top 10 win of his career (2-11) and a place in the quarter-finals.
“I’m really happy to win. It’s a very important match in my career,” said Jaziri. “I’ve worked really hard to get this win over a Top 5 player. It wasn’t an easy match as I needed to be focused every point, so to keep my error count down. I feel as if I am improving my tennis and fitness every week.”
Newly-wed Cilic, who beat Milos Raonic in the 2017 Istanbul final, took a 2-0 lead, but lost the next five games. Although the World No. 4 worked his way back to 4-5, Jaziri held his nerve to seal the 41-minute set. After two breaks of serve — in the third and seventh games — of the second set, Jaziri clinched the 80-minute victory when Cilic struck a forehand return long. The 34-year-old Jaziri beat then No. 4-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in February en route to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals.
“It was my first match and Malek played great,” said Cilic. “I had issues with my knee, so I wasn’t serving that well. But all the credit to Malek. I tried to play aggressively and I didn’t want to slow the pace down or be defensive.”
Jaziri will next meet seventh-seeded Czech Jiri Vesely, who defeated qualifier Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(3) in two hours and 28 minutes. Monteiro had led 5-2 in the deciding set.
Earlier in the day, Thomas Fabbiano recorded the biggest win of his career in beating second seed Damir Dzumhur, currently No. 32 in the ATP Rankings, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2 in one hour and 40 minutes. The previously highest-ranked player that Fabbiano, who beat former World No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny in the first round, had beaten came in February 2016 against then No. 40-ranked Leonardo Mayer in the Dubai second round.
“I’m happy to win, as I’d lost to Dzumhur on five previous occasions,” said Fabbiano. “We both have very similar games. I started very well, but I lost my focus at the beginning of the second set. I then regained my energy early in the third, but I’m very far from my best level.”
Fabbiano will next challenge France’s Jeremy Chardy, who he practised with for an hour on Wednesday. Chardy needed to work hard on Thursday to wrestle away the momentum from Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 in two hours and 16 minutes. Chardy took a 3-1 lead in the second set, but was soon pinned back and, although he could not convert one set point at 4-5, Ad-Out on Lajovic’s serve, he soon grew in confidence. The World No. 87 won the first four games of the decider.
“I am pleased because I won, but Dusan was so much better than me in the first set,” said Chardy. “It was a tight second set, when I fought so hard, and I then played well in the decider to gain confidence.”
Did You Know?
Prior to Thursday, Marin Cilic had not lost in the opening round of an ATP World Tour tournament since May 2017 at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to A. Zverev).