Mumbai: Three years after winning his last ATP tour, Gilles Simon defeated the second seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 7-6(4), 6-3 to win his maiden Tata Open Maharashtra Trophy in Pune.
The 33 year-old had never beaten the South African before, depite taking him to three sets twice out of the three times they had faced earlier. But swept him aside in the big stage to record his first win over Anderson on Saturday.
Ranked 89 and unseeded in the tournament Simon outwitted the big-serving Anderson in the summit clash having already ousted the defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut before upsetting the top seeded and World No 6 Marin Cilic en route to the final.
Anderson served big but Simon tackled almost everything thrown at him. The Frenchman’s positioning combined with his fierce returns made it all the more difficult for the 14th ranked Anderson who was forced into making several unforced errors in the 1 hour and 36 minute match.
With Simon controlling the pace of the game and effortlessly covering the entire court, Anderson concentrated on long rallies, with the longest ralley coming in the fourth game of the opening set when Simon came back from being 0-40 down to taking it to a tie-breaker that had five deuce points.
Earlier, the Frenchman was successful in winning the first three games where he broke Anderson’s serve all three times. But the South African, the tallest finalist to play in a Grand Slam when he finished as runners-up at the 2017 US Open, blasted six aces to win two break points before Simon wrapped up the first set with a stunning back hand drop.
Simon held fort in the second set losing just three points in his four service game as Anderson continued to struggle against the much more stronger opponent. Despite not having a powerful service as the South African, Simon did not lose a single point in the sixth and eight games that ut him ahead 5-3 at the break.
Anderson tried to bounce back but Simon ended his misery with a powerful Thursday as the South African wide backhand to hand his rival his first title of the season.