France's Simon shines in the Brisbane sun
France's Gilles Simon began his fine-tuning for the Australian Open with a hard-fought win over Colombia's Alejandro Falla in the second round of the Brisbane International on Wednesday.
In temperatures as high as 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) on one of the Queensland Tennis Centre's outside courts, Simon edged out Falla in two tiebreak sets 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5).
The third-seeded Simon, a semifinalist in Brisbane last year, was unconcerned about being relegated to one of the minor showcourts, albeit one with a roof.
"It was very hot, even with the roof, and it was very difficult playing today," Simon said. "But that's good, that's why I came here. It's such good preparation for Melbourne."
Simon had a disappointing Australian Open campaign in 2012, suffering from an injury in the lead-up then falling in the second round to countryman Julien Benneteau.
"I couldn't play for five days beforehand, then in the first round I went to five sets (against Thailand's Danai Udomchoke), it just took too much out of me," he said.
"This year I want to do my best to get my body ready for the Open. In the off season I didn't work on my game at all because I know that's in good shape.
"I just wanted to tune up physically."
Falla, the world number 54, took the game right up to the Frenchman, with Simon just edging two fiercely contested tiebreaks.
"Alejandro plays a nice game and he is very difficult to play against," Simon said.
The Frenchman now plays crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis, who upset sixth-seeded German Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-2.
Japan's Kei Nishikori, the fifth seed, joined Simon and Baghdatis in the quarterfinals with an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win over Spaniard Tommy Robredo.
Fourth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine progressed when Finland's Jarkko Nieminen retired with a migraine with Dolgopolov ahead 6-2, 4-1.
Top seed Andy Murray and second-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic both play their second-round matches on Thursday after being given first-round byes.