Malek Jaziri dedicated his hard-fought five-set win over Mikhail Youzhny in the Roland Garros first round on Monday to his coach, who was hospitalised on the eve of the Tunisian’s match in Paris.
His coach, French former player Christophe Freyss, felt unwell a few days ago, and was admitted to a hospital on Sunday for what Jaziri describes as a heart blood clot.
“I’d like to dedicate this win to my coach, who suffered a blood clot in his heart and is currently in the hospital. He felt weird a few days ago and didn’t do anything about it. Then he went to the doctor yesterday and they admitted him. He wasn’t with me today,” Jaziri told Sport360 after he defeated Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 on Monday.
“I’ve been with him every single for almost six months. So today was different and I felt a responsibility today to win so I can make him happy. Thank God I won and hopefully I made him happy, and made Tunisians and all Arabs happy. I had pressure inside to win for him today.
“He needs to stay in the hospital for three days. I spoke to him briefly after the match. He’s with me in my heart and my mind and I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Jaziri had chances to wrap up his win against Youzhny in four sets as he went up a break for 2-0 in the fourth. But he scraped his knee on the clay when sliding and the umpire advised him to stop because it was bleeding. That interruption worked in Youzhny’s favour as he broke back upon the resumption of play and ran away with the set to force a decider.
But Jaziri, who entered the clash with a 3-0 winning record against Youzhny steadied the ship and secured the win in three hours and 33 minutes.
His reward is a second round showdown with French No. 27 Richard Gasquet, who crushed Italian Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.
Jaziri, who has two top-five wins this season against Grigor Dimitrov and Marin Cilic, says he feels a lot more confident against such high-calibre players.
“I think the pressure will be a bit more on him. It’s a match I’m looking forward to. We’ve played each other before, but indoors, this time on clay at Roland Garros. It’s a good opportunity for me. I’m going in looking to get the win. My mentality now is much better, and I feel like I can beat anyone.
“I feel the players as well respect me more.”
Gasquet defeated the 34-year-old Jaziri in their sole previous meeting, in Montpellier last year.
It is a match that will likely take place on a big court at the French Open and Jaziri believes it would be a big step up for him to get a win like this at a Slam.
“It’s important of course. I’m going through somewhat of a rejuvenation period at the moment. I’m winning some important matches. Now I need to recover well because I played for three and a half hours,” said the Arab No. 1.
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