Gilles Simon reached the semi-finals of the Thailand Open 6-4, 6-1 yesterday as he defeated fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils, who was feeling the strain after missing four months with injury.
The fourth seed, who won in Bangkok in 2009, will play a semi-final against top seed Janko Tipsarevic after the world No. 9 beat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
Tipsarevic won five straight points in the opening-set tiebreaker from 2-5 down to take the set to start his push to victory.
“Today, it was another battle from the baseline, he made me suffer and ran me around the court,” said the Serb, bidding for a place in the eight-man year-end final in London on Nov. 5. “It was a really tough match. Every time I play Fernando, he makes me work, we never have easy matches. He likes to hit his forehand big.”
Simon, who split amicably this week with coach Thierry Tulasne, was watched by his mentor of almost six years in the quarter-final at the Impact Arena.
Simon has decided to go it alone without a coach in the hopes he can jolt himself into improving his ranking, which has stalled inside the top 20.
Simon, who had complained that a shoulder problem had been bothering his serve, said that playing the flamboyant Monfils was always a challenge.
“I tried to just focus on my game,” said Simon, who played his seventh quarter-final of the season.
“I have my own problems, so I wasn’t paying that much attention to him,” he said.
“I just tried to do my best on court, as always,” he said of the 84-minute win in which he broke Monfils five times.
“I’ve known Gael for such a long time. He tries everything to win, but I was strong enough to beat him. It was tough, but I played him the right way,” he added.
Monfils said he was far from his best as he returned for only the second week following a four-month pause with an injury to his knee.
“I was tired and it was a tough match. I was also a bit worried about my knee. Hopefully, it is fine,” he said after taking on-court treatment following the third game of the second set.
“It’s always difficult to play Gilles, we know each other’s game so well. It was not great for me today. I tried to play a different game against him, trick him a bit, but in the end it didn’t work,” Simon added.
Simon improved this season to 37-20 as he won his third match in four against Monfils.
In yesterday evening’s quarter-finals, French second seed Richard Gasquet defeated Australian Bernard Tomic 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, while Jarkko Nieminen of Finland was leading third seed Milos Raonic 5-2 at press time.
AFP, KUALA LUMPUR
Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko retired from his Malaysian Open quarter-final against Kei Nishikori of Japan yesterday after suffering a muscle injury in his left leg.
The former world No. 3 and the winner of the inaugural Malaysian Open in 2009 had lost the first set against the third-seeded Japanese 6-4 before calling it quits.
Davydenko, who has dropped to No. 44 in the world, first pulled up injured in the eighth game of the first set. He called for a medical timeout and only played another two games before losing the set.
He then decided to quit the tournament, handing Nishikori a semi-final berth.
In the semi-finals, the 22-year-old, who at No. 17 is the highest-ranked Asian in the world, is scheduled to meet second seed Juan Monaco of Argentina.