Tunisian wildcard Jaziri into Dubai semis


Dubai (AFP)

Tunisian outsider Malek Jaziri continued his surprise run at the Dubai Championships by beating Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday to reach the semi-finals.

The 34-year-old wildcard will next face third seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Croatian Borna Coric 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

Jaziri overcame a second-set blip to see off qualifier Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and reach the third semi-final of his career.

Jaziri, who began his week by knocking out world number four Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, is the first Arab player to get this far in Dubai since Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui in 2002, who reached the final and lost to France's Fabrice Santoro.

The world number 117 is now just one win away from reaching his first-ever ATP Tour final.

"It was a big fight today, not that easy at all," Jaziri said. "I finished very late yesterday. I think I was in bed at 2:30, so I didn't sleep a lot.

"I tried to recover the most, I had to get ready today. It wasn't easy, I had less than 17 hours.

"I was up and down little bit today. But I'm happy to win this match."

French second seed Lucas Pouille held off the attacking game of Japan's Yuichi Sugita for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory, as he bids for a second title of the season.

The world number 15 fired a pair of aces - his 13th and 14th of the match - in the concluding game to see off the 42nd-ranked Sugita, having fallen a set behind.

"I knew it would be a tough one, he's won plenty of matches in the past six, seven months. He's a very good player," said Pouille, a winner in Montpellier last month.

"I knew I had to play some good tennis to win. After a lot of the first set, I started to be a bit more aggressive, especially in the return."

Pouille, a 2017 semi-finalist, will now face Serbian seventh seed Filip Krajinovic who put out Russia's Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-2.

Bautista Agut overcame Coric, who made his name in Dubai three years ago when he knocked out three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray.

The Spaniard, who won the Auckland title in January, broke the Croatian twice to ensure his eighth win of the season.

"I am happy, I played very good tennis," Bautista Agut said. "It was not easy to beat Borna. He's very solid.

"He was playing very good serves. He was playing very aggressive -- it's my best match of the tournament."