Simon Surges To 1st Season-Opening Win Since 2013
Season openers have not been kind to ATP World Tour veteran Gilles Simon of late. But the fifth time was the charm for the No. 89 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
After losing his first match of the year four straight times, the Frenchman got off to a strong start in 2018 at India’s ATP World Tour 250 event, the Tata Open Maharashtra, defeating American Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-1.
The former World No. 6 showed signs of good form to begin the new campaign, breaking Sandgren's serve five times to claim victory in 76 minutes. The 33-year-old will look to win two matches in a row for the first time since Bangkok in September 2017 when he faces defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut, against whom he owns a 4-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead, in the second round.
There was one major upset on the first day of play in Pune, as Spanish qualifier Ricardo Ojeda Lara ousted sixth-seeded Jiri Vesely 6-3, 7-6(5). The World No. 198, who was competing in his first main draw tour-level match, overcame the disappointment of failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set – when he missed out on two match points opportunities – to eventually close out the battle in the tie-break, converting on his fourth match point.
The two other seeds in action managed to begin their seasons on a more positive note than Vesely. Seventh-seeded Mikhail Kukushkin battled through a tough 82-minute second set to defeat Moldova’s Radu Albot, 6-2, 7-6, setting an encounter against either Laslo Djere or Marius Copil. Eighth-seeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert had more of a hiccup, dropping a second-set tie-break before recovering to advance past Marco Cecchinato 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 6-2. The Frenchman will play one of two home favourites in the second round — Yuki Bhambri or wild card Arjun Kadhe.