ATP Marseille: Gilles Simon downs Julien Benneteau in three sets, advances to the quarterfinals

ATP Marseille: Gilles Simon downs Julien Benneteau in three sets, advances to the quarterfinals

Gilles Simon progressed to the quarterfinals in Marseille after a three-set win over Julien Benneteau.

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Seventh seed Gilles Simon defeated wildcard Julien Benneteau 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals at the Open 13. He awaits the winner of Illya Marchenko and second-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Simon grabs two late breaks to win the set

Gilles Simon began the match with a hold of serve to love. Benneteau, on the other hand, found it tough being dragged to deuce before coming through. In the very next game, it was Simon's turn to struggle on serve, also being taken to deuce but coming through as well for 2-1. The fourth game saw the match open up with Simon taking the ball nice and early to set up a forehand which brought the first break point of the game at advantage.

However, the 35-year-old denied Simon and held serve to stay in touch at 2-2. Simon was easing through most of his service games, holding serve to love for the second time to get back in front at 3-2.

Gilles Simon hits a backhand (Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Gilles Simon hits a backhand (Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

The very next game saw the world number 23 earn a second break point via an unforced error from his opponent. After a mini-rally, Benneteau netted a backhand and Simon broke to take a 4-2 lead. However, the wildcard fought back and earned a break back point immediately, only for Simon to serve an ace to bring the game to deuce before holding for a 5-2 lead. Now serving to stay in the set, Benneteau faced two set points at 15-40. Simon only needed one chance as he broke, hitting a well-timed backhand down the line to win the set, 6-2. 

Benneteau fights back to force a decider

Following the conclusion of the first set, Benneteau took a medical timeout for his shoulder, which seemed to have worked. In the opening game, he ran away to a love-40 lead, earning three break points. An unforced error from Simon allowed Benneteau to grab the break and then consolidate for a 0-2 lead with the match turned on its head. The 35-year-old continued to dominate and two more break points appeared for the wild card.

Julien Benneteau strikes a forehand (Photot: Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Julien Benneteau strikes a forehand (Photot: Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

One was saved due to an ace from Simon but Benneteau broke at the second time of asking to take an unexpected 0-3 lead. The 32-year-old brought up a lifeline point in the set when Benneteau served up a double fault. He did manage to save the break point and send the game to deuce but then won two points to lead 0-4. Simon eventually stopped the rot and got on the board in the set. He would go on to win just one more game as the world number 120 closed out the set 2-6 on his second set point via a well-executed ace. 

Gilles Simon finishes off Benneteau and advances to the quarterfinals 

Gilles Simon managed to turn the match back in his favour in the third set. He started off with a hold of serve to love. In the next game, he hit a forehand down the line to bring up a set point. However, Benneteau managed to save it only for the seventh seed to bring up a second break point. An ace by Benneteau brought the game to deuce for the second time. However, Simon kept applying pressure to the 35-year-old and a third break point arrived. This time, he broke for 2-0 forcing the error from his opponent. Benneteau didn't go down without a fight as he grabbed a break point after constructing a well-earned point.

Gilles Simon and Julien Benneteau shake hands after their three-set encounter (Photo: Open13)
Gilles Simon and Julien Benneteau shake hands after their three-set encounter (Photo: Open13)

But Simon hit an ace out wide to deny Benneteau. A second break point would appear but only temporarily as it was saved with Simon going on to take a 3-0 lead. Just like in the previous set, the rot was stopped in the fourth game with Beneteau holding for 3-1. From that game onwards, both players found their rhythm on serve and with Simon a break infront, he gained triple match points with an ace. Only one of three was saved as the seventh seed finished the match off with a backhand winner. 

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