MADRID: France's Gilles Simon beat world number one Rafael Nadal in a thrilling tussle at the Madrid Masters on Saturday to set up a final showdown with Andy Murray. British fourth seed Andy Murray had earlier dashed hopes of a final meeting between the world's top two players when he outgunned second seed Roger Federer...
MADRID: France's Gilles Simon beat world
number one Rafael Nadal in a thrilling tussle at the Madrid
Masters on Saturday to set up a final showdown with Andy Murray.
British fourth seed Andy Murray had earlier dashed hopes of
a final meeting between the world's top two players when he
outgunned second seed Roger Federer 3-6 6-3 7-5.
Simon took almost 3-1/2 hours, saving 17 break points along
the way, to record a nailbiting 3-6 7-5 7-6 win over Nadal.
There was drama even in the final point as the players and
10,000 spectators held their collective breath for Hawkeye to
confirm that Nadal's final forehand had dropped just long.
“I wanted to give 100 percent of myself. I want to fight on
every point. I´m playing tennis for this kind of match,” said
Simon, who had also beaten Federer earlier this year. “It´s one
of the greatest victories of my career.”
Although Nadal won the first set comfortably, the
16th-ranked Simon refused to get overawed by the Mallorcan's
brutish groundstrokes. The two slugged it out in one high-class
rally after another and the Frenchman eventually prevailed to
level the contest.
Nadal broke in the final set but Simon immediately wiped out
the advantage and stole the Spaniard's serve again.
When Simon attempted to serve out for victory, Nadal hit
back to win that game. However, the French Open and Wimbledon
champion was out-fought in the deciding tiebreak.
Simon said the match changed after he won a marathon second
game in the deciding set that went to nine deuces.
“He had so many chances to break me in the game and the
stress just disappeared. I just wanted to enjoy the party,” said
the 23-year-old. “I wanted to have a great fight with him and
that´s what I managed to do”.
While Simon's run in Madrid means he will leapfrog Richard
Gasquet to become the top French player when the new ATP
rankings are released on Monday, Nadal was guaranteed the
year-end number one spot after Federer failed to reach the
After losing to Federer in the U.S. Open showpiece last
month, Murray gained sweet revenge by outwitting Federer.
The Scot said on Friday he felt more relaxed than before his
straight-sets defeat at Flushing Meadows, and early deliveries
of around 220 kph hinted at a closer contest in Madrid.
Former world number one Federer won the first set with some
attacking tennis but Murray grew in confidence with his serve
purring nicely and by the third set the 21-year-old had taken
“I'm obviously playing great tennis, yesterday I played
great but with all respect to (Frenchman Gael) Monfils, he's not
the same player as Federer,” said the fourth seed.
Murray and Simon become the first players since 1993 to beat
two different number ones — Federer and Nadal — in one season.
Murray slammed 14 aces, 10 in the final set, but it was
testament to Federer's fearless style that the Swiss saved six
break points before finally cracking at 5-5.
The Scot brought up match point with a huge cross-court
winner and sealed his third victory over Federer when his
opponent dumped the ball into the net.
“I thought Andy served very well today and returned much
more comfortably than at the (U.S.) Open,” said Federer. “He did
well to hang in there and it was a close match”.