PTT Thailand Open
Simon Survives Scare To Set Melzer Clash; Tsonga Closes On Final
by ATP Staff|
Gilles Simon survived a scare before booking his place in the semi-finals of the PTT Thailand Open. The second seed dropped the first set but recovered to defeat World No. 66 Evgeny Korolev 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 Friday at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Bangkok.
The Frenchman, making his debut this week in Bangkok, won just one point more than Korolev in the pair’s third meeting but broke serve three times as he improved to a 3-0 record against the Russian after one hour and 43 minutes.
World No. 10 Simon is the only member of the Top 10 yet to win an ATP World Tour title this season. The 24 year old, who has compiled a 34-24 mark, reached the semi-finals at the Open 13 (l. to Llodra) and the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships (l. to Djokovic) in February. He last featured in an ATP World Tour final at the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open (l. to Murray) in October 2008.
Simon has added incentive to perform well in the ATP World Tour Asian swing, the Nice native is bidding to claim one of the three remaining spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour finals. Last year, the right-hander qualified for the season finale for the first time and defeated Roger Federer in the group stages before reaching the semi-finals (l. to Djokovic).
Simon will need to overturn a 0-1 record against Jurgen Melzer in the semi-finals after the sixth seed made smooth progress with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Andreas Beck. Melzer, who fell at the quarter-final stage last year (l. to Tsonga), was dominant on serve, surrendering just eight points in total, and capitalised on three of the seven break point opportunities he created on Beck’s serve to prevail after 66 minutes.
The No. 44-ranked Melzer is through to his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season, and first on hard court, after improving to a 28-26 match record. The 28 year old, who also reached the last four at the ATP Studena Croatia Open (l. to Davydenko), is hoping to reach his first ATP World Tour final since finishing runner-up at Kitzbuhel in July 2008 (l. to del Potro).
Top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was once more taken the distance as he bids to defend his maiden ATP World Tour title that he won in Bangkok (d. Djokovic) last year. The Frenchman, who needed a third-set tie-break to edge Ernests Gulbis in the second round, fired 20 aces and saved five of six break points as he battled from a set down to defeat Swiss qualifier Marco Chiudinelli 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-4.
“It was difficult today, Marco played well,” Tsonga said. “But I continue to improve. It’s good for my confidence, for practice. For me it’s important to have two victories in a row.”
Like his countryman Simon, the No. 1 Frenchman is looking to bolster his chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour finals this week. The world No. 7 qualified for the season finale last year in a dramatic winner-take-all title match with David Nalbandian at the BNP Paribas Masters and went on to beat No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the group stages.
The 24-year-old Tsonga is chasing his third ATP World Tour title of the year after triumphing at the SA Tennis Open (d. Chardy) and the Open 13 (d. Llodra). His consistent performances this season, including nine quarter-final or better tour-level appearances, have seen him compile a 43-15 match record, already surpassing last year’s mark of 34-14.