Top seed, Daniil Medvedev continues his bid for his first title of the season when he faces Frenchman, Gilles Simon in the quarter finals of the Open 13 Provence in Marseille on Friday.
Medvedev vs Simon is live from Marseille on Friday, 21 February from 7:00pm local time/ 6:00pm GMT
Medvedev arrived Marseille on a two-match losing streak, having lost to Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round of the Australian Open, and to Vasek Pospisil in his opening match in Rotterdam, and he flirted with a third straight defeat when he trailed rising Italian, Jannik Sinner by a set in his Marseille opener on Thursday, but the Russian regrouped very quickly to breeze past Sinner in the next two sets, winning 1-6 6-1 6-2 to reach his first quarter final of the season.
Medvedev served below 50%, and won under 50% of points on his first serve in a forgettable opening set, but his serving numbers improved dramatically after that. The world No. 5 dropped just four points on serve in the second set, and just one in the final set! He managed all of these while serving at 50% for the match.
The Russian is into his first quarter final since he won the Shanghai Masters last season. Medvedev claimed four titles in 2019, and reached nine finals, including a stunning run of six consecutive finals between August and October. That spell yielded titles in Cincinnati (his first at Masters 1000 level), St. Petersburg and Shanghai, and a maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open, where he pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets before falling to the great Spaniard.
He had a good opening to 2020, winning five of his six singles matches at the ATP Cup as Russia reached the semi-finals, but the Russian is yet to really impose himself on the tour as he did in the fall of last season. He was beaten by Wawrinka in the fourth round of the Australian Open, and then fell to Pospisil in Rotterdam.
Is this the tournament when he really begins to motor this season? He faces two-time Marseille champion, Gilles Simon in the quarter finals on Friday.
Champion in Marseille in 2007 and 2015, Simon is putting another run together this year, beating wildcard, Harold Mayot and last week’s Rotterdam semi-finalist, Aljaz Bedene to reach the quarter finals for the second consecutive season.
The Frenchman fought back from a break down, and from 4-6 down in the tie break to eke out the opening set against Bedene, winning the final four points, and he rode that momentum into the second set, breaking in the opening game. There were no further break points on either side, with Simon going on to win 7-6 6-4.
This is the first time he’s claimed back-to-back wins in 2020. He was previously 2-4 before Marseille, exiting in the opening rounds in Adelaide and Montpellier, and going just one round better at the Australian Open and Rotterdam. He has now reached the quarter finals in Marseille in three of the last five years, but has not made the last four at the ATP 250 tournament since claiming his second title in 2015.
At 35, Simon remains a consistent presence on the tour, even if his results are nowhere near as good as they once used to be. The former world No. 6 still manages to produce the odd deep run, like he did at Queen’s last year, when he beat Medvedev in the semi-finals to reach his only final of the season (lost to Feliciano Lopez). He also made semi-finals in Pune, Sydney and Marrakech, and ended the year at No. 55 in the world.
Simon owns a 2-0 record over Medvedev, beating the Russian in Lyon in 2017 and at Queen’s last year. Can he make it three in a row against the top seed on Friday?
Both men are natural counterpunchers, and can appear as mirror images of each other at times, but Medvedev, being the much younger man, moves better, and also carries a far greater offensive edge. He’s got to use that offence a lot on Friday, as Simon loves nothing more than lengthy, sometimes boring exchanges from the back of the court.