• Simon beats Bolelli in Lyon opener

    10/28/09 9:28 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Simon beats Bolelli in Lyon opener Gilles Simon battles through a hard-fought opener in Lyon on Wednesday night. The No. 2 seed is through to the second round, where he will take on unheralded countryman David Guez.

    The French fans have been treated to a pair of tense victories by their countrymen on consecutive nights at the Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon.

    After Jo-Wilfried Tsonga survived Kevin Kim 7-6(5), 7-6(5), Gilles Simon also needed two tiebreakers on Wednesday night to dispatch Simone Bolelli by an identical score of 7-6(5), 7-6(5). Simon advanced to the second round after two hours and six minutes of play.

    In what was their second career head-to-head meeting, but first on a hard court, the two competitors spent most of the first set getting a feel for the match while producing uninspired tennis. Simon suddenly struck for the first break of the night at 5-5, but that only invigorated his opponent. Bolelli bounced right back and broke Simon to force a tiebreaker.

    Effective play in the return game continued for both men in the decider. Simon earned the first mini-break for a 2-1 lead, but he lost the next two points on his own serve to fall behind 3-2. Then it was Bolelli's turn to donate two straight service points, thus giving Simon a 4-3 advantage. Back-and-forth they went until the 12th-ranked Frenchman seized a 6-5 edge, at which point he finally closed out the set on serve.

    The second frame of play progressed in similar fashion, with both players holding en route to 5-5. While there were no breaks this time around, Simon and Bolelli each struggled through tight service games with the pressure mounting. Simon saved one break point at 5-5 with an ace, then Bolelli fought off one match point at 5-6 with a perfect backhand drop-shot. The 72nd-ranked Italian twice gave back mini-breaks in the ensuing 'breaker at 3-2 and 5-4, and Simon finally finished off the match at 6-5 with a crushing service winner.

    Lyon's No. 2 seed wrapped up his effort with an impressive 14 aces to just two double-faults. Next up for Simon is countryman David Guez. The little-known French qualifier defeated Rajeev Ram 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday.

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