Malek Jaziri enters Roland Garros opener against Mikhail Youzhny with confidence

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Ready for battle: Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.

Malek Jaziri is hoping his strong record against Mikhail Youzhny can help him in his opener against the veteran Russian at Roland Garros on Monday.

The Tunisian world No. 63 will face Youzhny for a second time in two weeks having defeated him in their qualifying match in Rome earlier this month.

It’s often tricky playing the same player in back-to-back events but Jaziri is feeling solid on the clay this season, having reached his maiden ATP final in Istanbul this month, on the red dirt.

He has two top-five wins this year, with triumphs over Grigor Dimitrov en route to the Dubai semi-finals in February, and over Marin Cilic in Istanbul.

“I enter with confidence, always when you beat someone, I think I beat him in Dubai two years, and last year in Shanghai and now Rome, so it’s good. Hopefully I’ll pass this time as well. With the right attitude, good feeling, good match, everything together insha’Allah,” Jaziri told Sport360 in Paris ahead of his first round against Youzhny.

Jaziri’s best showing at Roland Garros is making the second round, in 2012 and 2016.

He is one of two Arabs to start the main draw in Paris, with Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat losing his first round to Dimitrov on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Tunisian continues to show great progress, this late in his career, and feels his partnership with French coach Christophe Freyss is paying dividends.

“I think I’m doing a great job with my coach, Christophe really, with his own experience, he beat a lot of top players, (Ivan) Lendl, he beat Arthur Ashe in his last match, he beat a lot of top-10 guys, with his experience he can push me, even the attitude on court, he lived these moments so he can help me with that,” said Jaziri.

“And physically with my fitness coach, he used to work in other sports but with me I’m working hard daily. We’re doing a good job and hopefully we’ll do better, so I can make better results at bigger tournaments. I’m improving every year, that’s the most important thing. It’s not easy, winning, defending, but I’m here.”

Jaziri is scheduled to face Youzhny on day two, Monday, third on Court 15 from an 11:00 (local time) start.

The 35-year-old Youzhny is a former world No. 8 currently ranked 98 in the world.

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