BANGKOK: Gilles Simon kept French hopes alive at the Thailand Open on Friday, advancing to the semi-finals after engineering a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback win over Russian Evgeny Korolev.
Simon, the number two seed, paved the way for a possible Gallic showdown with top seeded Frenchman and defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga playing his quarter-final match against Swiss qualifier Marco Chiudinelli. Serb Viktor Troicki, the number four seed, will take on American eighth seed John Isner in another quarter final match.
Simon, who said that pain from his troubled knee was the last thing on his mind during the victory over Korolev, will face off against tough sixth seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria, who beat German Andreas Beck 6-4, 6-2 in the quarters. “Jurgen is a tough opponent, he plays well in all phases of the game,” said Simon, making his Bangkok debut. “But I just finished this win and I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.”
Simon was put on the back foot in the first set by the hard-hitting Korolev, who has now lost all three matches he has played against Simon. But the Frenchman was slowly able to turn the tide in a battling performance that featured seven aces and three breaks of the Russian’s serve. “I really had to run a lot today,” Simon said. “He stayed on his top level for most of the match. He hit as hard as he possibly could on every shot. It was very hard on my knee today — but I didn’t feel a thing out there.”
Melzer won his only previous match against Simon in Bucharest three years ago on clay. The 28-year-old Austrian, ranked 44 in the world, will be playing his second semi-final of the season after Umag. In Bangkok, Melzer dominated Beck with ten aces while never facing a break point.