Today will be the beginning of the first major ATP clay court event of the year with just a couple of main draw matches on the schedule. This match has already been played but I was away without good internet before the match but I thought I would share my pre-match thoughts anyway. Gilles Simon is the favourite to reach the second round and get the win over Malek Jaziri.
Gilles Simon hasn’t been playing very good tennis lately but he also hasn’t played that much lately so we don’t have to many matches to see how well he is playing. After the Australian Open swing he played a couple of indoor hard court tournaments which saw him fall to Dominic Thiem in the second round of Rotterdam and the first round of Acapulco. He also went down to the eventual champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals of Marseille. He fell in the second round of Miami to Jan-Lennard Struff after skipping Indian Wells. Malek Jaziri also played a couple of indoor tournaments, in which he fell in the second round of Montpellier to Richard Gasquet and the second round of Marsielle to Nick Kyrgios. He lost to the world number 1, Andy Murray, in the first round of Dubai but then made a surprise run to the fourth round of Indian Wells before falling to Jack Sock. He went out the top seed Stan Wawrinka in the third round of Miami and, on the clay, he fell in the first round of Marrakech to Jeremy Chardy.
Gilles Simon has played the Monte-Carlo event eleven times since his first appearance in 2005 at age 20. He has played averagely here with his best result coming in 2012 before falling to the eventual champion Rafael Nadal. His worst result came on his debut in 2005 when he fell in the first round of qualifying to Christophe Rochus. Last year he reached the third round before he went down to Stan Wawrinka in a very fast and straight forward encounter, which means he doesn’t have too many points to defend. Malek Jaziri has only played this tournament once in his career, which was when he fell in the first qualifying round to Norbert Gombos in 2015. This means he has never won a match here and probably won’t be confident heading onto the court.
Head to Head Record
These two have faced each other three times in their careers, all of those times were on the hard court. Gilles Simon has won all three of those matches but Malek Jaziri has nicked a set of the Frenchman once. Their first meeting was in the third round of the 2014 Shanghai Rolex Masters, which Simon won 6-2, 6-3 but Jaziri wasn’t the player he is today back then. At the 2015 BNP Paribas Open, Gilles Simon won their second round encounter 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in a tough encounter in the heat. There most recent encounter was in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Metz tournament, which Simon won 7-6(7-2), 6-0. I think that this will be on both of their minds and it will obviously benefit Gilles.
This encounter will be quite a tight one but neither man will be playing their best tennis throughout the match. Nonetheless, it will be entertaining, especially in the first two sets with both men matching each others levels. In the first set, there will be a lot of exchanges of breaks on the way to Simon serving at 5-4 down. Jaziri will put in a good game to take the game and the set which will leave him feeling confident. In the second set, there might be a couple of breaks on the way to 5-5, when Simon will find some consistency to break and serve out to force it to a third. Jaziri will tighten up his game for the final set and Simon won’t be able to do much but get 2 service games as Jaziri will get his first clay court win of the season.