2017 was a disappointing season to say the least for Gilles Simon. The Frenchman struggled with injuries throughout last season and failed to back up some of his big results from the following year as well. Simon's ranking fell far enough that he was on the brink of falling out of the top-100 with more bad results.
Despite all that though, he started 2018 with a dream result by capturing the Tata Open title over Kevin Anderson 7-6(4), 6-2. The win was the Frenchman's first title in three years and will rise up 32 spots in the ATP World Tour rankings come Monday.
Simon Breaks Through In The Tiebreak
The opening few service games saw comfortable holds for both men until the Frenchman ran into some trouble in his second service game. He saved a few break points in an eight-minute long game as he was made to work for just 2-2.
The seventh game saw the first break of the set for the 33-year-old Frenchman. After having his first break point saved with a cross-court winner, the Frenchman delivered a forehand pass down the line to give him the 4-3 lead. It was quickly consolidated at love to give him a 5-3 lead and really put the pressure on the South African to try and stay in the set.
Serving for the set, Simon was once again down break point. Anderson's backhand hit the top of the net, allowing it to pass Simon as the set was once again level at 5-5. Both men would hold comfortably to take the first set into the tiebreak. The 31-year-old South African took the first mini-break lead going up 3-1 and had a chance to extend it to 4-1 but dumped his forehand headed into the open court in the net.
That missed forehand gave Simon the advantage he needed. That was the first of four straight points won by the Frenchman who capped off that run with an exquisite forehand pass. Anderson ended his rut with an ace putting him down 4-5 with the 33-year-old having the chance to serve out for the set. It was the Frenchman's trademark defense that aided him to the opening set after using it to set up a forehand winner.
Simon Cruises To The Title
Neither man had much trouble holding to start the second set with the first five games being as comfortable as you could ask for in a service game. Once again the Frenchman's defense came into play after getting to an angled forehand from Anderson which left an open court, but the US Open finalist missed it into the net as he Simon was running back to track it down.
The 33-year-old finally made his breakthrough at 30-40 after an Anderson backhand went long. The South African was pushed once again as he was down 2-5 and serving to stay in the match. He saved the first after winning an extended rally that saw Simon's forehand dumped into the net. It was not meant to be though for Anderson, hitting a backhand wide to give Simon the title.