Tata Open Maharashtra: Simon overcomes Anderson to claim title

The 89th ranked Frenchman, who was yet to taste a win against Anderson (being 3-0 down on head-to-head), broke the jinx as he beat the South African 7-6, 6-2 to claim the ATP 250 singles title here at the Balewadi Stadium in front of a packed crowd.

Gilles Simon on way to his victory in Pune on Saturday.   -  PTI

Tackling a serve landing from six feet eight inches is a tough ask for a player relatively shorter in frame. But Gilles Simon had entered a Hogwarts-like magical zone on Friday night itself, when he triumphed in singles, as well as doubles, to reach the finals. The rhythm was intact when he took on Kevin Anderson — World No 15 and the second seed of the Tata Open Maharashtra — in the finals on Saturday.

The 89th ranked Frenchman, who was yet to taste a win against Anderson (being 3-0 down on head-to-head), broke the jinx as he beat the South African 7-6, 6-2 to claim the ATP 250 singles title here at the Balewadi Stadium in front of a packed crowd.

On the eve of the final, Simon had said, “Kevin is not great news for me to play in the finals, but I would try to focus on the part of the game where I can be better.”

And well, he did no wrong today.

In the second set, Anderson looked tired and it seemed like he almost gave up after a point. There were a few incredible rallies — the count crossed 15 and more. It became a game of who gets tired first. Both the players made each other run around. The angles were incisive and the target, clear.

Perhaps, it was the first set that locked Anderson’s movement in the second. The big serves were no surprise. When the game started, the court resembled one of those collegiate tournaments, where kids try to outdo each other with every move. They tried being disciplined but strategy and hunger for the title had the upper hand.

The rallies started, Simon was leading 5-3. Anderson made it 5-4 and then, 5-5. At one point, Anderson handled Simon’s offerings like a cricketer would play a short ball on a bouncy pitch. As expected, it went to the tie-break (6-6).

Soon, Anderson turned the court into one of those geometrical angle-related problems, straight out of a mathematics text book. Simon ran around to save the points.

Left. Right. Centre. Back. No, the tongue still didn’t stick out. But the South African started bagging points — he had made it 2-0, when Simon switched to top gear. He snatched it and closed the set 7-6.

At the start of the tournament, nobody expected Simon to emerge a champion, but sport is all about surprises. Isn’t it?

Results

Singles: G Simon bt K Anderson 7-6, 6-2.