(February 21, 2013) -- In a rematch of last year's Open 13 final in Marseille, Juan Martin del Potro fought back from a set down to defeat Michael Llodra in three tough sets, 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-5.
Llodra, a one-time champion (2010) and three-time finalist in Marseille, took the early edge against the 2012 defending champion, but in a second-set tiebreaker, he let his game drop just enough to allow Del Potro to take the momentum of the match from him.
Llodra, who didn't face a break point in the first set and saved all four he faced in the second, dropped his first two service points of the tiebreaker on an ill-advised drop shot that Del Potro easily knocked a backhand winner off and a double fault.
From there Del Potro, who has now won 26 of his last 30 indoor matches, was able to take control.
Still, this was a struggle that pitted the improvisational serve and volley game of Llodra against the poised and powerful baseline game of Del Potro. "I think Mika is the only one who can play that game. He has a big talent," said Del Potro. "Mika played fantastic today and he was so close to beating me."
In the end, there wasn't very much that separated the two, save a little extra belief from the World No. 7.
Del Potro saved all five break points he faced in the decider to book a spot alongside Gilles Simon in the quarterfinals. Simon, the 2007 champion at Marseille, defeated Spaniard Robert Bautista-Agut 6-3, 6-1 in 68 minutes.
"I don't like the long rallies, I don't like to run a lot," Del Potro said afterwards, when asked about the hyper-consistent, string-bean-thin Frenchman. "And against Simon, all the matches we play against each other are like four hours, minimum. I will try to serve strong and make winners with my forehand."
Also advancing reaching the quarterfinals on Thursday were Dmitry Tursunov, who upset Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(4), 6-2, and Jerzy Janowicz, who took out last week's Rotterdam finalist Julien Bennetau, 7-6(0), 6-3.
"The first set was the key," said Janowicz, of his victory. "I could see that he got a little bit nervous, he was a little bit frustrated after this first set, and I broke him in the beginning [of the second set]."
Janowicz will face Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Tursunov will face Gilles Muller.