Battling Simon keeps Marseille treble hopes alive

By Peter Thompson 21 February 2017
Battling Simon keeps Marseille treble hopes alive

Two-time champion Gilles Simon clawed his way from a set down to beat Karen Khachanov in the first round of the Open 13 in his homeland on Monday.

Simon won the hard-court event in Marseille for a second time in 2015, but the experienced Frenchman was in danger of making an early exit before wrapping up a 4-6 7-5 6-3 success.

The seventh seed did not earn a single break point in the first set and the unseeded Khachanov was scenting an upset after breaking for a 2-1 lead to gain the upper hand.

Simon has failed to win a title since his triumph in this tournament two years ago, but is still in with a chance of being crowned champion for a third time after battling back to set up a second-round meeting with Julien Benneteau or Denis Shapovalov.

Malek Jaziri will come up against defending champion Nick Kyrgios in round two after ousting Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3 6-3.

Kuznetsov has been beaten in the first round of his last four tournaments since reaching the semi-finals of the Sydney International and could not manage a break of serve in his latest loss.

Mikhail Youzhny won the other match of the day, beating Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 4-6 7-5 after the Russian failed to make it through qualifying at the Rotterdam Open last week.

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