Against all odds, Gilles Simon qualified for the third round of Roland-Garros. The 37-year-old Frenchman, who announced the end of his career at the end of the season, overcame Steve Johnson (7-5, 6-1, 7-6 ).
updated on May 26, 2022 at 7:21 p.m.
And here is Gilles Simon in the third round of Roland-Garros. While the 37-year-old Frenchman had only one victory on the main circuit this season (against Lucas Pouille in Montpellier) and emerged from a Homeric first round until the end of the night against Pablo Carreno Busta, he is appeared fresher and more effective than ever against Steve Johnson. The American did not understand everything that happened, to the point of sometimes losing his tennis (48 unforced errors) on the Philippe-Chatrier court, white-hot behind Simon the stainless steel.
Efficient in service and returns (49% of points), the Frenchman quickly neutralized his opponent’s game. The question was whether he was going to hold on physically. Pushed to the tie-break in the third set, Simon went to draw on his last reserves to sign the 500th victory of his career on the circuit. After 3h54 of his sacred match against Carreno Busta, Gilles Simon added 2h34 of a fight which hardened at the end of the match.
We had believed that by dint of martyring Johnson’s backhand, the Frenchman would open up an easier path for qualification in the third round against Marin Cilic. But in the third set, he broke twice before being caught, and especially when serving for the match at 5-4 when the American had the bad idea to bring out the slap box with a forehand. But the American got tense in the tie-break, while Simon didn’t want to let go. He obtained a first match point at 6 points to 5, which his opponent saved from a serve and volley. Before Johnson definitely ends up capitulating on two unforced errors.
“I didn’t want to play a disgusting game today. »
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“I was starting to run out of patience towards the end, said Simon at the microphone on the court after the match. Usually, in other tournaments, I’m the only one hoping for the opponent’s ball to come out, and then everyone wanted it to come out. And suddenly, he made a mistake! “And the whole public celebrated the Frenchman with a loud cry that came out of the heart, to salute this almost unexpected adventure for the veteran. “I don’t need to tell you this, but thank you,” said Simon. There, the context was different, I have enormous stress at the start of the match. And I felt like I was useless. I was surprised to make a match like that two days ago, and I didn’t want to make a disgusting one today. If I exchanged less with you, it was to manage energy. But I felt you there! »
For a place in the round of 16, Simon will face the Croatian Marin Cilic, seeded n ° 20. An opponent he has dominated 6 out of 7 times in his career.