ATP Tour

Lopez beats injured Simon at Kooyong

Feliciano Lopez (Gallo Images)
Feliciano Lopez (Gallo Images)

Melbourne - Spain's Feliciano Lopez beat off jet-lag to open the Kooyong Classic with a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 11-9 comeback win over an injury-hampered Gilles Simon on Tuesday.

Frenchman Simon, the world number 15, appeared to be carrying an abdominal injury during a contest in which Lopez had to save four match points.

Lopez, ranked 19th in the world, started his ATP season with a first-round defeat last week in Doha, and complained of jet-lag having only arrived in Melbourne at the weekend for the Australian Open warm-up.

"I have big jet-lag in my body right now," the 33-year-old said. "I'm looking forward to playing better on Friday in my second match.

"I've always said this is the best preparation for the Open. The courts and conditions are the same -- even the wind is there. It's great be back in Australia and playing again."

Simon took 50 minutes to win the opening set, but appeared to be struggling physically in the second.

Lopez finally secured a break on his seventh opportunity for a 2-1 lead, but lost it in the sixth game to go 3-3. Simon dropped serve a game later with Lopez squaring the match after the 37-minute set.

The tiebreak third set featured various momentum shifts, as Simon took a 5-1 lead. But Lopez fought back to 4-7.

The Spaniard then saved a quartet of Simon match points before closing out the win as the Frenchman landed a return out.

"I could tell he was having some problems, it's always difficult to play against an injured opponent," Lopez said. "You just hope that you react well."

Later Spaniard Nicolas Almagro takes on Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu at an event expanded this year to a dozen players.

In a third opening day contest, Australian Open wildcard, local hope Omar Jasika, faces fellow young hopeful Hyeon Chung of South Korea.

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