Pune: It was first-time lucky for unseeded Frenchman Gilles Simon who beat second seed South Africa's Kevin Anderson 7-6(4), 6-2 to lift the inaugural Tata Maharashtra Open at Balewadi Sports Complex here on Saturday. The vctory also helped him collected the winner's cheque of $89,435 and 250 ATP ranking points.
This was Simon's first major ATP Tour title since 2015. Simon was in fantastic form throughout the tournament as he knocked out defending champion Roberto Bautisa Agut in the second round and dumped top- seeded Marin Cilic in the semifinals.
The crowd inside the stadium cheered for Simon who tasted his first win against Anderson, having lost the previous three matches on hard courts.
The game started on an even note as both the players held onto their serve in the first six games. In the seventh game, it was Simon who broke Anderson to take a 4-3 lead.
Simon then held onto his serve to make it 5-3, but Anderson then held onto his serve and broke Simon in the 10th game to level the match at 5-5. Both the players then held onto their serve to take the game to the tie-breaker.
It was Simon who kept his nerve in the tie-break to win the set 7-6, the last point being a 39-shot rally.
The second set was no different as both the players went toe-to-toe in the first five games without allowing each other to break serves.
It was the 33-year-old Frenchman who once again had his nose ahead after breaking Anderson in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Simon then held onto his serve in the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead and get himself one step closer to the tile.
While Anderson served to save the match in the eighth game, Simon was a couple of points away from lifting the maiden tile. The World No 89 held his nerve in the eighth game as Anderson hit the ball wide to give the Frenchman victory in the final.
During the presentation ceremony, Simon praised the organizers and the crowd who showed great support throughout the tournament.
"First, I would like to congratulate Kevin, he is a great player and this is the first time I managed to beat him.
"Well, I would like to say that I have played a lot of tournaments but here the event was pretty amazing. Everybody was fantastic here, we had a warm welcome and big thank you to the crowd here because you guys were great and even if tennis is not big here, it will become a major sport,” he said.
Robin Haas and Matwe Middelkoop win doubles
Meanwhile Robin Haas finally managed to win the doubles title in India as he teamed up with countrymen Matwe Middelkoop to beat French pair of Gilles Simon and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in the final.
The last time Robin Haas played in India in 2011in Chennai he alongwith David Martin of Australia finished runners-up where they were beaten in final by Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes....