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Carreno Busta Moves On In Melbourne

Pablo Carreno Busta became the first player to advance to the third round at the 2018 Australian Open when Tata Open Maharashtra champion Gilles Simon retired while trailing 2-6, 0-3.

Carreno Busta reaches his fifth consecutive Grand Slam third round, after reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals at Roland Garros and the US Open, respectively last year. Simon led 2-1 in the first set and held a total of four break points in Carreno Busta’s first two service games, but the No. 10 seed won the next eight games before Simon retired.

Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday improves to 3-2 against Gilles Simon in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
The pair entered their second-round encounter with an even 2-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head series record, with Simon winning their only previous match on hard court in straight sets (2016 Shanghai). The Frenchman entered the season's first major with momentum after earning his first ATP World Tour title since the 2015 Open 13 Marseille (d. Monfils). In Pune, Simon beat three Top 20 players in the ATP Rankings, including World No. 6 Marin Cilic in the semi-finals.

Carreno Busta will play No. 23 seed Gilles Muller, who survived a tremendous comeback by Malek Jaziri 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-2 to win two matches in a row for the first time since July 2017 (Atlanta).

For a moment, it appeared that Jaziri would come back from two sets down for the second match in a row after defeating Salvatore Caruso in that fashion on Monday. After failing to break Muller in the first three sets of the match, the Tunisian snuck out the third-set tie-break before breaking on his fourth opportunity in his opponent's first service game of the fourth set — his eighth chance overall. And with his forehand catching fire from the baseline, Jaziri stormed ahead with the momentum, losing just two more points on serve in the rest of the set to force a decider.

Muller, who last season won his first ATP World Tour title immediately before the Australian Open at the Sydney International, entered the first Slam of the year in 2018 having gone 4-7 in his past 11 matches. He also had never lost a set in two previous FedExATP Head2Head meetings against Jaziri. Yet suddenly, after coming within a game — twice — of advancing to the third round in straight sets, Muller was in deep trouble, falling behind a break at 0-1 in the fifth set.

But the 34-year-old, competing for the 12th time in the Australian Open main draw, broke Jaziri twice in a row to right the ship. While the World No. 100 earned five break points trailing 1-3, Muller gave him little opportunity to take advantage, using his pinpoint left-handed serve to end points or allow him to control them with his forehand. After four hours, two minutes and on Muller's fourth match point, Jaziri shuttled a backhand down the line wide to end the back-and-forth battle.

While Muller defeated Carreno Busta at the 2015 Australian Open, the Spaniard beat Luxembourg’s star player in last season’s Millennium Estoril Open final to win one of his three ATP World Tour titles. He also leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1 against the crafty left-hander.


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