Chardy holds off Isner to reach Montreal semis

Montreal (AFP) - Frenchman Jeremy Chardy booked his first appearance in the semi-final of a prestige event, struggling for three hours to defeat John Isner 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (15/13, 7-6 (7/4) at the Montreal Masters on Friday.

Chardy overcame 32 aces from the big American to reach the final four of an ATP Masters 1000 event in a career first.

He will need to quickly recover after a marathon which only concluded in early evening and threw the day's schedule at least three hours behind.

The match lasted three hours and eight minutes. It started two hours late due to rain and was interrupted for an hour by showers.

Chardy will face the winner from top seed Novak Djokovic and Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis.

The other two quarter-finals were to feature second seed Andy Murray facing French holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Japan's fourth-seeded US Open finalist Kei Nishikori taking on resurgent Rafael Nadal, the seventh seed.

Chardy fought through despite 32 aces from Isner, who found himself struggling in a 19-minute second-set tiebreaker.

The American 16th seed missed the chance to close out the contest in straight sets, blowing five match points. Chardy needed four set points to carry the tight battle into a deciding set.

But that one also went to a decider, with the French challenger earning two match points and converting on the first.

Chardy advanced with 12 aces and a single break of serve while saving break points on six of seven occasions.

"I'm very proud to reach my first Masters semi-final," said the 49th-ranked winner who levelled his season record at 18-18.

The Frenchman has cast a spell over Isner in their series, winning all four of their meetings including the Roland Garros second round last May.

"It was such a tough match, but I stuck to my strategy," said Chardy, winner of his only career title in Stuttgart six years ago.

"I stayed strong mentally, which was key and I had great support from the crowd."

Isner played a Canadian semi-final in 2012 but had lost in the first round in his last two appearances.