Tata Maharashtra Open: Simon, Anderson hoping for positive start to new season

Defending champion Gilles Simon and runner-up Kevin Anderson are eager perform at the Tata Maharashtra Open and get their 2019 campaign off to a strong start.

Gilles Simon in a practice session ahead of his Maharashtra Open title defence.   -  R. Ragu

Defending champion Gilles Simon hopes to get his 2019 season off to a flying start with a defence of his Maharashtra Open title in Pune.

Simon, who was ranked 89 in the world at the start of the last season, endured a tough 2017 season where his only quarterfinal appearance ended in a straight-set defeat to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. After starting his 2018 campaign with a win in Pune and ending the year ranked 30, he is hopeful that another good start here will lead to a better year again.

Travelling without his support team for the second year in a row, Simon did not want to put too much emphasis on a draw that could see him face two of the other three seeded players in his half – Kevin Anderson, Benoit Paire and Jaume Munar.

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"I saw the draw but my focus is on the first match, which is especially tricky since the last match I played was months ago. I want to see how I react in the first round. My pre-season in France was indoors only and I have been training outside only for the last three days, so we will see," he said.

Kevin Anderson addresses the media at the Maharashtra Open on Monday.   -  R. Ragu

 

Anderson, last year's runner-up, echoed Simon's view of having a good year after starting the season on a positive note in Pune.

"I enjoyed the tournament last year. I played in Abu Dhabi and then here. The flow was nice heading into Melbourne. It just worked out really well heading down to Australia. So I decided to the same schedule again," he said.

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Currently ranked sixth in the world, Anderson had a good 2018 campaign winning titles at the ATP 250 in New York and the ATP 500 in Austria. The highlight of the year was the run to the Wimbledon final, defeating Roger Federer and John Isner in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively in gruelling five-set battles, before losing to Novak Djokovic.

He wants to "continue to push boundaries further" and give himself another shot at a Grand Slam, with better results this time around.