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Simon Stops Comeback Man Baker

Paris, France

Simon© AFP/Getty ImagesGilles Simon has improved his Roland Garros performances year after year.

France's Gilles Simon, the No. 11 seed, worked hard to beat wild card Brian Baker 6-4, 6-1, 6-7(4), 1-6, 6-0 in just under three hours on Wednesday at Roland Garros.

"I feel good, because I won, I guess," said Simon. "But we didn't play more than three hours, so still okay (smiling), even if it's five sets. It was a very difficult match. I was feeling good on the court, two sets to love, playing very nice tennis, and then he played also some amazing shots and he played really good the third and fourth sets. It was difficult at the beginning of the fifth... he started to miss a few shots, and finally I broke him the first game, and it was really, really important."

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Simon dropped just 14 points on serve through the first two sets, before World No. 141 Baker fought back in just his sixth match at a major championship. The American hit 31 winners in the third and fourth sets, but won just 12 points in the deciding set. It was the first five-set match of Baker's career and the first time he had played on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Simon's best result on Parisian clay came last year when he lost to Robin Soderling in the fourth round. He is now 8-6 lifetime at the championship and will next face Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, the No. 18 seed, who hit 67 winners to defeat Pablo Andujar of Spain 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1 in two hours and 29 minutes.

Baker was appearing at Roland Garros after winning a United States Tennis Association wild card by capturing the Savannah Challenger title (d. Gensse). Between November 2005 and July 2011 he played just two ATP Challenger Tour events and had five surgeries – left hip surgery in November 2005; a sports hernia surgery in 2006; and left hip, right hip and right elbow surgery in 2008. He took three years to fully recover from the elbow surgery and returned unranked in July 2011, winning an ITF Futures event in Pittsburgh.

Last week, the 27 year old reached his first ATP World Tour final as a qualifier at the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur (l. to Almagro) and subsequently jumped from No. 216 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings to No. 141.

"Hopefully there will be more to come, but this was definitely the biggest thing that I've done since coming back, and probably the last couple weeks has been the biggest things I've accomplished in my career so far," said Baker. "It's definitely gonna be something that I'll be able to look back and say that I played on center court at the French Open and went five sets, even though hopefully I'll forget about what happened in the fifth (smiling)."

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Spanish No. 14 seed Fernando Verdasco overcame Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 51 minutes. It was their first meeting since the 2005 Australian Open. Verdasco, who beat Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Open earlier this month, goes onto play No. 22-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi.

Rain suspended three singles matches Wednesday evening. Sixth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe were knotted at 6-2, 4-6, 1-1; 28th-seeded Serbian Viktor Troicki had just drawn level with Italian Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-3; and Belgian David Goffin was one game away from victory against French veteran Arnaud Clement 3-6, 7-6(2), 0-6, 6-2, 5-1.

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