World No 2 Novak Djokovic fought past tricky Frenchman Gilles Simon in his Monte Carlo Masters’ opener on Tuesday. The Serbian, a two-time former champion in the tournament in 2013 and 2015, won 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 31 minutes.
Earlier, it was the 32nd ranked Simon who took the lead in the match, breaking Djokovic’s serve in the opening game of the first set itself. Djokovic, however, broke right back to level the match. Few games into the set, a second break on Simon’s serve saw Djokovic take a one set lead in the match after 36 minutes of play.
The second set was a complete turnaround, this time in Simon’s favour, as he kept wrongfooting Djokovic to take the match into the decider.
Simon led twice with a break, and even served for the match at 5-4 in the final set, before Djokovic scripted a comeback for one last time in the match. He first broke back Simon’s serve to level the set at 5-5, and then got the win in the 12th game after Simon sent his forehand soaring wide for an unforced error when staring at match point.
Djokovic finished the match with 23 winners to Simon’s 21, and with 43 unforced errors to his opponent’s 26. Despite the Serbian hitting nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners, Simon’s difficulties in controlling his shots at crucial points in the match thwarted him from securing the win.
In the pre-quarter-finals, Djokovic now awaits the winner between 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta and Karen Khachanov.