Monte Carlo Masters 2017: Novak Djokovic Survives Gilles Simon Upset Bid

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2017

Serbia's Novak Djokovic hits a return to French's Gilles Simon during the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series tournament on April 18, 2017 in Monaco / AFP PHOTO / Yann COATSALIOU        (Photo credit should read YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/Getty Images)
YANN COATSALIOU/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic survived a potential upset to beat Gilles Simon after a decider at the 2017 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on Tuesday. Simon recovered from losing the first set to force a third in a lengthy match featuring more than one memorable rally but missed the chance to win when serving at 5-4.

Djokovic being pushed all the way wasn't the only big news on Day 4 of the tournament. There was also a shock when qualifier Adrian Mannarino knocked out seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Mannarino dropped the first set on a tiebreak but routinely broke serve to help claim the next two.

Elsewhere, German Tommy Haas, playing on a protected ranking, made easy work of Benoit Paire in straight sets.

Here are the results from Tuesday's matches:

2017 Monte Carlos Masters Results: Tuesday's Scores
StageResultScore
Round of 32(Q) Adrian Mannarino bt. (7) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3
Round of 32(2) Novak Djokovic bt. Gilles Simon6-3, 3-6, 7-5
Round of 32(16) Pablo Cuevas vs. Joao Sousa6-3, 6-3
Round of 32(10) David Goffin vs. Nicolas Almagro7-5, 6-1
Round of 64(11) Lucas Pouille bt. Ryan Harrison6-2, 6-4
Round of 64(Q) Carlos Berlocq bt. (LL) Pierre-Hugues Herbert3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Round of 64(PR) Tommy Haas bt. Benoit Paire6-2, 6-3
Round of 64Robin Haase bt. (LL) Damir Dzumhur6-3, 6-2
Round of 64Karen Khachanov bt. Nicolas Mahut6-2, 6-4
Round of 64Paolo Lorenzi bt. Marcel Granollers6-2, 6-4
Round of 64Gilles Muller bt. (PR) Tommy Robredo6-2, 6-2
Round of 64(Q) Jan-Lennard Struff bt. (WC) Casper Ruud6-4, 6-4
Round of 64Jiri Vesely bt. Mischa Zverev7-6(3), 6-3
Round of 64Feliciano Lopez bt. Daniil Medvedev7-6(6), 7-5
Round of 64(W) Jeremy Chardy bt. (W) Borna Coric7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3
ATPWorldTour.com

Here's the updated schedule for Wednesday:

2017 Monte Carlos Masters Updated Schedules: Wednesday's Matches
Time (BST/ET)Match
10 a.m./3 p.m.Tomas Berdych vs. Tommy Haas
10 a.m./3 p.m.Carlos Berlocq vs. Albert Ramos
10 a.m./3 p.m.Pablo Carreno-Busta vs. Karen Khachanov
10 a.m./3 p.m.Grigor Dimitrov vs. Jan-Lennard Struff
10 a.m./3 p.m.Kyle Edmund vs. Rafael Nadal
10 a.m./3 p.m.Andy Murray vs. Gilles Muller
10 a.m./3 p.m.Lucas Pouille vs. Paolo Lorenzi
10 a.m./3 p.m.Diego Schwartzman vs. Roberto Bautista-Agut
10 a.m./3 p.m.Dominic Thiem vs. Robin Haase
10 a.m./3 p.m.Stan Wawrinka vs. Jiri Vesely
10 a.m./3 p.m.Jeremy Chardy vs. Marin Cilic
10 a.m./3 p.m.Alexander Zverev Jr. vs. Feliciano Lopez
Flashscore.com (Times may vary)

 

Recap

Djokovic appeared on his way to a comprehensive victory over Simon after he made light work of the first set. The Serb was still in control at the start of the second, thanks largely to winning rallies like this one, per Tennis TV:

However, Simon started to battle back valiantly. ESPN's Brad Gilbert explained why the Frenchman was bound to cause Djokovic some problems:

So it proved, as Simon soon broke a 2-2 deadlock after engineering his own wins in the rallies:

Djokovic began to buckle somewhat, allowing Simon to win three of the next four games to take the set and force a decider.

Things got even better for Simon when he staked himself into a 3-2 lead in the third after this terrific point:

Djokovic rescued the next game, but Simon continued to plug away, evening the set at 4-4. Djokovic was on the brink at 5-4, but Simon was wasting chances to close things out, per Stuart Fraser of The Times:

Simon's inability to win on serve at 5-4 proved fatal as Djokovic won three games in succession to seal his passage into the next round, but only after being given a real scare.

Mannarino played well enough to earn a first top-10 win after sending Tsonga packing. The latter couldn't make the most of a powerful service game that saw him boom four aces.

Despite his serving power, Tsonga was undone by Mannarino's knack for breaking serve. The Frenchman won six of eight break points to complete an impressive comeback after falling in the tiebreak at the end of the first set.

Similarly, Haas saw off Paire thanks to the quality of his return game. The German won 65 percent of his return points available against an opponent lacking mobility across the clay.

Afterwards, Paire indicated there was nothing he could have done to change the outcome, per Fraser:

The 10th seed David Goffin beat unseeded Nicolas Almagro in straight sets, despite contrasting fortunes in both. Goffin needed to win seven games to take the first, but thoroughly dominated the next set, winning 6-1.

There was a first win on the Monte Carlo clay from Luxembourg's Gilles Muller. The soon-to-be 34-year-old impressed during his straight-sets win over Spaniard Tommy Robredo.

Muller wasn't the only player to enjoy a comfortable day. Dutchman Robin Haase wasted no motion beating Damir Dzumhur in straight sets.

Elsewhere, No. 11 seed Lucas Pouille made quick work of beating unseeded American Ryan Harrison, before Czech Jiri Vesely survived a tough tiebreak in the first set to make easier work of the second against Mischa Zverev.

Another first-round match saw Frenchman Jeremy Chardy survive a tense encounter against 20-year-old Borna Coric. The latter took the second set after losing a tiebreak in the first, but Chardy rebounded to win the third with room to spare.

Young Coric came up shot despite forcing a decider against Chardy.
Young Coric came up shot despite forcing a decider against Chardy.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Things were also close for Spaniard Feliciano Lopez against Russia's Daniil Medvedev. Lopez twice needed to win seven games to claim a set, leaving a resilient Medvedev unable to push the match to a decider.

There were also wins for Jan-Lennard Struff, Karen Khachanov, Paolo Lorenzi and Carlos Berlocq.

Djokovic will have to play better as the tournament progresses, but did show some laudable resilience to handle a difficult opponent on clay. It bodes well for the Serb's chances of winning the big prize in Monaco.

 

All match statistics per the ATP World Tour official website.