French Open: Gilles Simon comes through five-set thriller to advance
Last Updated: 26/05/13 6:16pm
Former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt produced a trademark gut-busting performance before losing a five-set marathon contest to 15th seed Gilles Simon.
The 32-year-old Australian, who is now ranked 86th in the world, had been 5-0 down in the decider and saved two match points to claw back to 5-5, but Simon just had enough stamina to achieve a 3-6 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-5 win.
There was no shortage of twists and turns as the Frenchman gave fans on Suzanne Lenglen anxiety attacks as he fought back from two sets down for the first time in his career.
Hewitt, was playing in his 13th French Open, said: "The first two sets I played pretty well. I went out there with a pretty good game plan, I think, and I executed it perfectly for the first couple of sets.
"He changed his game a little bit and gave me absolutely no free points for the next three sets. It wasn't until he was nearly across the finish line that I started getting a couple of cheap points out of him again and he served a lot better.
"I would have liked to have been on the other end of it. It's disappointing but I didn't obviously come here with massive expectations. He's a quality player as well."
Meanwhile, Simon insisted he felt calm in the deciding set despite seeing his opponent fight back, saying: "I do not feel like I did something wrong on those games where he progressively came back.
"It was really difficult. I had to work a lot. It always feels a bit strange.
"I didn't have that much success in the 5-2 game (Hewitt benefited from two net cords). But I felt good. I wasn't feeling I wasn't playing well. Paradoxically, this time I was very relaxed."
Simon is one of six seeded Frenchmen at Roland Garros as the host nation desperately craves a first male champion since Yannick Noah in 1983.