• Simon back from two sets down to beat Hewitt

    5/26/13 5:20 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Simon back from two sets down to beat Hewitt Gilles Simon recovers from a two-set deficit then holds off Lleyton Hewitt late in the fifth to advance at Roland Garros on Sunday. Simon is through to a second-round meeting with either Adrian Mannarino or Pablo Cuevas.

    Gilles Simon has never fared particularly well at the French Open, but he had never lost to Lleyton Hewitt heading into Sunday's first-round clash. In a way, both trends continued.

    Simon needed five sets over three hours and 19 minutes to get past Hewitt 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5. After his comeback from two sets down, the Frenchman squandered all of a 5-0 lead in the decider before holding serve in the 11th game of the set and breaking Hewitt at 6-5 to finally clinch victory.

    This was not expected--by anyone except maybe Hewitt--to be so competitive. The 32-year-old Australian had not won a match on clay this season and he had been 0-3 lifetime against Simon with not a single set to his credit and having made none of the sets closer than 6-3.

    Hewitt, though, wrote a a much different script at the start of Sunday's showdown. The former world No. 1 converted all six of his break-point opportunities in the first two sets, three in each. He closed out the opener on serve at 5-3 then broke Simon at 5-1 in the second for a commanding lead. Hewitt even regained momentum in the third when he recovered from a break deficit to get back on serve at 3-3.

    Simon, however, at last turned the tide with a break for 4-3. Roland Garros' No. 15 seed held his next two service games to force a fourth set. In the latter stages of his career, Hewitt has been struggling in long matches and more of the same continued on Court Suzanne Lenglen. The world No. 82 won only 12 total points in the fourth, earning zero break chances and saving none of the break points he faced.

    To the delight of the French fans, Simon appeared to be off to the races when he surged to a 5-0 advantage in the fifth. Suddenly, however, the crowd favorite cracked. Hewitt roared back to level the score, saving two match points on serve at 2-5 in the process. With his collapse almost complete, Simon steadied himself just in time to reach the finish line. A convincing hold at 5-5 led to a routine break in the final game, which ended when Hewitt netted a forehand after an extended baseline rally.

    Simon wrapped up his effort with seven aces and two double-faults while capitalizing on a whopping nine of his 10 break chances. Next up for the world No. 17 is either Adrian Mannarino or Pablo Cuevas.

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