MONTE CARLO • World No. 2 Novak Djokovic survived a huge scare at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday, coming from behind to defeat Gilles Simon 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
The world No. 32 Frenchman served for the second-round match at 5-4 in the deciding set, only to lose the next three games.
Djokovic's return to the ATP circuit after missing out on the Miami Masters last month with an elbow injury looked to be straightforward when he was drawn to face Simon, an opponent whom he has beaten in their last 10 meetings.
But the Monte Carlo resident was stretched by the 32-year-old counter-puncher over 2hr 31 min and narrowly avoided another upset at this home tournament.
At this stage last year, Djokovic was stunned by Czech Jiri Vesely.
The Serb, seeking his third title in the principality following wins in 2013 and 2015, will next meet either Karen Khachanov of Russia or 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
While the 12-time Major champion will be looking to regain his form on clay ahead of his French Open title defence, Petra Kvitova is just hoping to be fit for Roland Garros.
The two-time Wimbledon champion suffered severe injuries to her playing hand as she fought off a knife-wielding intruder at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov in December.
Doctors had estimated that the Czech star, ranked 14th in the world, would not be able to return to competition before the second half of the year.
"My name will appear on the entry list for Roland Garros tomorrow," Kvitova said of the May 28-June 11 tournament in a post on her Instagram account.
"As the entry deadline approached, I had made good progress in my recovery process and I want to give myself every last opportunity to be able to compete at one of my favourite events.
"This does not mean necessarily that I will be ready to play in Paris, but that I'm doing everything possible to give myself the chance and keep a positive mindset.
"There remains a long road ahead but I wanted to share this update with you. Thanks for your continued support and I hope to see you soon."
ATP MONTE CARLO
Day 3: StarHub Ch201, 5pm