Unseeded Gilles Simon, a former world No 6, outsmarted second seed Kevin Anderson to lift the ATP 250 Series title with a 7-6 (4) 6-2 win at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, India, on Saturday.
Two factors which were key to Simon’s straight-set conquest was his ability to cope with Anderson’s booming serve and the latter’s poor return of serve performance on the day in a contest that lasted 97 minutes. The victory was Frenchman Simon’s first win over South Africa’s Anderson in four meetings.
The title was Simon’s 13th on the ATP Tour and his first since the Marseille Open three years ago. “I did not have a great season last year but I am very happy and excited to have started the season by winning the title here in India,” said 33-year-old Simon, who has a world-ranking of 89. “It was a great match, I don’t know how I did it. To beat Anderson in the final is a great achievement for me. I managed to stay calm and play my game. “My ranking is pretty low, I will work on that. I really had a good connection with fans. Already in the first round, they were happy for me. They loved the way I played. It helps to play your best tennis.”
The 31-year-old Anderson who is world ranked 14th said he battled to cope with Simon’s tactics. “He incorporated the style, the tactics of the match against (Marin) Čilić (in Friday’s semifinal). His defence was excellent and I found it difficult to attack him,” said Anderson. “It was a disappointing for me. Partly he played very smartly and partly I didn’t execute my game. He was very patient today. In previous matches I was aggressive at times, today I could not do it.” This was Anderson’s final tournament ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne starting on Monday, January 15.”
ATP TATA OPEN MAHARASHTRA
RESULTS – SATURDAY, 6 JANUARY 2018
Singles – Final
G. Simon (FRA) d  K. Anderson (RSA) 76(4) 62
SIMON BOUNCES BACK WITH TITLE; HAASE/MIDDELKOOP TRIUMPH
– World No. 89 Gilles Simon beat the top three seeds in Pune to win his first title since the Open 13 Marseille in 2015.
– Despite losing his first three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against second seed Kevin Anderson, Simon triumphed, breaking the big-serving South African three times.
– Simon, who finished the season outside of the Top 50 in the ATP Rankings for the first time since 2005, is projected to soar back into the Top 60 on Monday.
– Despite the loss, it was another strong week for Anderson, who could have equaled his career-high ranking of No. 10 if he won the title.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
“It was a great match, I think a great performance. I never beat Kevin before so to be able to beat him in the final is a great achievement for me.”
“It’s so hard to feel comfortable against him because he has a huge serve and is really controlling the game, but I managed to stay calm on my side and to just play my game.”
“Just really want to congratulate Gilles. It was a really tough match. You really made life difficult for me out there today.”