Anderson, Simon in title clash

Anderson, Simon in title clash

Gilles Simon staged a dramatic comeback to knock out top seed Marin Cilic and set up the title clash with second seed Kevin Anderson, who prevailed in an excruciating battle against a spirited Benoit Paire at Tata Open Maharashtra, here on Friday.

In a sensational turnaround, the unseeded Frenchman toppled the world number six from Croatia 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a gripping semifinal  in one hour and 51 minutes.

Anderson, the US Open finalist, rallied to edge out Paire 6-7(6), 7-6(2), 6-1 in two hours and 19 minutes.

Paire struggled with cramps in his right leg in the deciding set and Anderson, who fired 26 aces, pulled away with an easy break of serve.

Paire got the crowd involved with him, several time gesturing towards fans to cheer for him.

Cilic, with an intimidating 66 frame, was ruthless in the beginning but Simon, using his wealth of experience, effortlessly changed the complexion of the game.

Simon's consistent returns, even on the powerful serves of Cilic, unsettled the Croat, who started to make unforced errors and could never recover.

He was controlling the match with his powerful serve but started to struggle in putting his first serve in, which cost him as the match progressed.

Simon came to the match with a superior 4-1 head-to-head record against Cilic and improved it further. They last played in 2016 at the Miami Masters, where Simon won in a three- setter.

In the men's doubles, the Indian pair of Yuki Bhambri and Divij Sharan bowed out of the competition after going down 4-6, 6-7 (2) to the French duo of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Gilles Simon in the semifinals.

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