Number 15 seed Gilles Simon dug himself out of a two sets to love deficit and weathered a late onslaught from Lleyton Hewitt to register an enthralling 3-6 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-5 win on the opening day of the French Open.
Buoyed up by the local support, Simon had his back pressed against the wall in the opening stages as Hewitt quickly opened up a two sets lead.
The 28-year-old, however, made a sparkling comeback, claiming the next two sets and was on course for a comfortable win at the end, before Hewitt bounced back, deleting the Frenchman’s 5-0 lead in the decider to make it 5-5.
After squandering two match points in the eighth game and frustration clearing showing on his face, Simon finally managed to tame his opponent, converting from his third opportunity to book his place in the second round.
In his post-match interview, Simon expressed his delight on surviving a late scare from the veteran Australian who was only playing his third clay court match of the season.
Simon said to reporters: “I simply got back into the match by playing better. Unfortunately, at the end he played great tennis. It's never easy to finish when you see the guy coming back 5-1, 5-2, 5-3 after a few match points. So I'm just happy that I managed to win this one.”
Meanwhile, Spain number two and fourth seed David Ferrer got off his French Open campaign in a convincing manner with a straight sets win over Marinko Matosevic.
The Spaniard, though, looked lacklustre at times, and had to overcome a double break deficit in the second, before he rallied to subdue his rival.
In Sunday’s other action, the big serving Canadian, Milos Raonic was made to work hard by Xavier Malisse in a 6-2 6-1 4-6 6-4 win. He will take on France’s Michael Llodra in the second round.
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