Daniel Stuns Coric In Final-Set Tie-Break In Tokyo
Japanese player earns first Top 20 victory since March 2018
The odds were not in Taro Daniel’s favour when the Japanese player stepped onto Colosseum at Ariake Tennis Park on Tuesday in Tokyo. The 26-year-old had never won a match at this tournament, nor had he won a main draw match at an event above the ATP 250-level since February.
But Daniel rose to the occasion with the Japanese fans fully behind him, upsetting second seed Borna Coric 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5) to reach the second round of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.
“I knew the opponent was going to be more nervous than me. Obviously he’s like, ‘I have to win, he’s a wild card,’” Daniel said. “I was just like, ‘Keep going, try and not be passive, not be too aggressive, but just try and find that balance, not make any mistakes.’ He ended up making more mistakes than I did.”
Daniel had not earned a victory against an opponent inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings since defeating Novak Djokovic at last year’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. But the World No. 127 withstood 15 Coric aces and saved four of the six break points he faced in his two-hour, 39-minute victory.
The 26-year-old, who went ahead by a mini-break on the first point of the tie-break, fell behind 2/3. But that was the last time that Daniel trailed in the match.
In the next round, the home hope will play Aussie Jordan Thompson, who battled past Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 after one hour and 58 minutes. This is Thompson’s Tokyo debut.
The Aussie defeated Daniel 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-0 this year in Sydney in the pair’s only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
Did You Know?
Daniel’s victory makes four Japanese players in the second round in Tokyo, the first time that has happened since 2003.