Simon emerges champion

Simon emerges champion

Gilles Simon's giant-killing spree culminated in a stupendous title win as he humbled second seed Kevin Anderson in straight sets to lift the inaugural Tata Open Maharashtra trophy, here on Saturday.

The unseeded French player, ranked 89, tamed big-serving Anderson, ranked 14 in the world, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the summit clash, watched by a packed house at Balewadi Sports Complex.

Simon had knocked out defending champion and third seed Roberto Bautista Agut before shocking top seed and world number six Marin Cilic en route the final.

It is the first title for Simon, since his win at Marseille in February 2015.

Simon's  effortless court coverage meant that Anderson was locked in long rallies more often, something which worked in favour of the French player.

Anderson, the 2017 US Open finalist, struggled to execute his big serve consistently. His poor returns even on a humble service from Simon made his job tough as unforced errors continued to flow from his racquet in the one-hour 36-minute match.

The longest game in the opening set was the fourth  where Simon went down 0-40 but saved four break chances after five deuce points.

Anderson was serving big but Simon did not let him dominate. Points were initially long when Simon served but the South African's serve came under pressure in the fifth when the Frenchman started attacking.

Two service return winners by Simon made it deuce but Anderson wriggled out of tight situation by winning consecutive points. However, he was not spared in the seventh with Simon finding an exceptional forehand winner on the second breakpoint.

The Frenchman did not lose a single point on his serve in the sixth and eighth games and the break in between put him ahead 5-3.

Anderson got a chance to get the break back when Simon's backhand sailed over the baseline at 30-30 and he grabbed the chance with a passing backhand winner as Simon charged the net.

Both the players held the next two games easily, forcing a tie-breaker. Simon trailed 1-3 initially but soon led 6-4 and nailed the set with a forehand winner which he produced after a sensational 39-shot rally.

Anderson saved three break points in the second game of the second set but an unrelenting Simon broke his rival in the sixth and eighth to seal the win.

Simon lost only three points in his four service game in the second set while Anderson committed handful of errors. His misery finally ended when he hit a backhand wide to give Simon his first title win of the season.  

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