Gilles Simon battled through to win a tough five-set match against Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(1), 4-6, 7-5 on Wednesday at the Australian Open. The 14th seed appeared to have be in control in the second set until he got broken in the second set that changed the match dramatically. Simon will face Federico Delbonis of Argentina in the third round.
Simon hangs on to the early break
In the first set, Simon got two break points in the second game after Donskoy hit a backhand unforced error at 15-30. The Russian lost the next point with a forehand forced error to give the Frenchman the early break. Simon held and consolidated the break at 40-15 in the next game to go up 3-0.
In the following game, Donskoy appeared to have an easy service game at love. But, after a Simon backhand winner and two forehand unforced error from the Russian, he found himself in a deuce game. Donskoy would face three deuce games in the game before finally holding his service game and get on the scoreboard.
Serving for the set, Simon started the game 0-30 after hitting a double fault and an unforced error. Tied 30-all, Simon hit a forehand forced error to give Donskoy his first break point but saved it in the next point with a forehand winner. In the second deuce game, Simon gets the set point after a forehand unforced error from Donskoy. The Russian forced a third deuce game after hitting a winner after a long rally. On the third set point, Donskoy hit a backhand long to give Simon the first set 6-3 in 38 minutes.
Donskoy wins the second set after a late momentum swing
Donskoy started the set hitting three consecutive errors to give Simon three break points. The Russian hit his fourth consecutive error, a backhand unforced error, to give the Frenchman the early break. In the next game, Donskoy returned the favor, getting his first break point of the set after a backhand forced the error from Simon. However, the Frenchman, proving why he is ranked higher, saves the break point. In the third deuce game and after saving a second break point, Simon got the advantage and won the game to consolidate the break.
Up 4-3 and 40-30, Simon hit a forehand forced error to tie the game 40-all. Donskoy got a break point after hitting a forehand winner. He would break the Frenchman after a forehand forced error to tie the game 4-all. After getting the break back, it appeared like momentum swung to the Russian’s side as he held the next service game to go up 5-4, putting the pressure on Simon to hold his service game.
Simon held comfortably at love in the next game to tie the 5-all. In the next game, Donskoy was up 40-15, but Simon managed to force deuce putting the pressure on the Russian. However, Donskoy, who looked more confident after getting the break back, would hit a forehand smash-winner and got Simon hit a backhand unforced error to hold serve.
Up 6-5, Donskoy got two set points as he appeared to have found his game, matching Simon hit by hit putting more balls back in play. Simon saved one set point with an ace but in the next point; he would hit a forehand forced error after a long rally as Donskoy won the set 7-5 in 54 minutes.
Simon wins tiebreak to go up 2-1 in the match
The third set was all about holding service game early on. Donskoy had the momentum on his side. He was returning more balls, created more angles on his shots, kept Simon on the run, and hit sharper and cleaner shots, painting the lines. He also minimized his unforced errors. Meanwhile, Simon kept in pace with the Russian by holding his serve and waited patiently to crack Donskoy’s service game.
Tied 4-all, Simon got to an early 30-0 lead on Donskoy’s serve. After the Russian had tied it at 30-all, he hit a double fault to give Simon a break point that he wasted dumping a backhand into the net. Donskoy ended up holding his serve to go up 5-4, putting the pressure on Simon to hold his serve.
Serving to stay in the set, Simon struggled to hold as Donskoy got three set points, all of them he saved. The Russian wasn’t letting up, who went toe to toe with the French man. However, after five deuce games, Simon finally managed to hold at the end to force a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Simon got a mini break after a forehand error from Donskoy to go up 3-1. Three Donskoy errors later, the Frenchman has five set points. The Russian would hit his seventh consecutive error as Simon won the set 7-6(1) in 57 minutes.
Donskoy holds onto the break to win the fourth set
Undeterred from being down two sets, Donskoy didn't waste any time breaking Simon's service game in the fourth set. He got two break points in the first game which he ended converting to an early break as Simon hit errors in his serve. The Russian got into trouble in the following game as he looked to consolidate the break. After being up 40-15, Donskoy hit back to back errors to tie the game but with the help of the Frenchman by hitting errors, Donskoy managed to hold and go up 2-0.
Down 1-2, Simon got a hold of two break points after back to back errors from Donskoy. The Frenchman didn't give the Russian a chance to save the break points as he hit a forehand winner to get the break back and level the set 2-all. In the following game, Donskoy got a hold two break points of his own but couldn't convert a single one as he hit two consecutive backhand unforced errors. After getting the advantage on the fourth deuce game, Donskoy hit a backhand volley winner to convert his fourth break point to go up 3-2.
The Russian would hold onto the break to win the fourth set and force a fifth and deciding set.
Simon breaks Donskoy late to win the match
Up 1-0 in the fifth set, Simon got a hold of three break points after Donskoy hit three consecutive errors. But, the Frenchman couldn't capitalize the break points as Donskoy forced deuce. The Russian ended up holding his service game to tie the set.
Both players would hold their service games till the 11th game of the set. Down 5-6, the pressure was on Donskoy to hold serve. The Russian got into trouble early on as he got down 0-30 after missing a forehand and a backhand. In the next point, Simon came to the net and hit a forehand volley winner to get three match points. Donskoy followed it up with a backhand forced error to give the match to Simon as the Frenchman survived his tough, grueling five-setter match to advance to the 3rd round in Melbourne.