Gilles Simon played extremely well in Marseille, fast, in control and hitting the ball viciously. Simon smacked Gael Monfils 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(4) to win the title for the second time.
Simon has not been overwhelming over the past year, but the 30-year-old has been quite good at certain tournaments, reaching the 2014 ATP Masters 1000 final in Shanghai by taking out Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych. The week before last, he upset Andy Murray to reach the semis in Rotterdam.
In France, he overcame the talented young Borna Coric in the second round. Yes, he could have played better in the third round at the Aussie Open, losing to David Ferrer 2-6, 5-7, 7-5, 6-7(4). Some days, he is on fire, while on other days he is nervous when it’s tight.But,, perhaps this year, he may make real progress at a Grand Slam again. Last year he lost to Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga—somewhat close, but no cigar. The former No. 6 has only reached a Slam once in the quarters. He’s won 12 ATP World Tour titles, but how about a major semi, or winning an ATP Masters 1000 like, I don’t know, Indian Wells or Miami next month? Possible, but he needs some more success before we believe it.
Monfils has reached the Roland Garros semis twice, but was unable to leap forward. The 28-year-old is now 5-17 record inthe finals, which makes his head spin. He is a lot of fun, but Monfils committed 54 unforced errors against Simon. That was way off when it mattered the most.
Donald Young had a heck of a tournament in Delay Beach, upending Alexandr Dolgopolov and Bernard Tomic to reach the finals, but Ivo Karlovic clocked in and won the tournament 6-3, 6-3. The 6-foot-11 giant nailed 13 aces and saved seven break points. And guess what, he will turn 36 years old this week. The Croat is the oldest winner since Jimmy Connors in 1989 at 37 years.
“Last year, I was in four finals and I lost all of them, so I really wanted to do this one good,” Karlovic said. “I was focused; I was doing my thing and it paid off.”
Young said he didn’t play very well in the final, but still, the American looked forceful in Memphis where he reached the semis, and in Delray Beach, taking the rising Tomic (finally, again) when his lefty was cracking the ball.
Last year he was named to the Davis Cup against Great Britain in the first round. He fell to Andy Murray, but he wasn’t bad and obviously, the two-time champion Murray was the favorite. This time, they will play Britain again, this time oversees. It appears that John Isner, and Bob and Mike Bryan are locked in, but captain Jim Courier has yet to decide who the other singles player will be. Perhaps Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson or Young. It’s a close one, as one of the guys have to beat James Ward (assuming he will play along with Andy and his doubles brother, Jamie) as it is going to be very tough if Andy plays singles and doubles. But on Friday, if Isner beats Ward, then Murray bests Querrey/Johnson/Young, then Andy might decide to play dubs with his bro against the Bryans. That will be delicious. If the Bryans win on Saturday, Murray will be favored against Isner. Assuming the Brit Murray will win, then Ward will have to play the fifth tie against Querrey/Johnson/Young. Now that will be a heck of a time. Good fun.
Rafael Nadal has rarely lost on clay. In fact, even though he didn’t play all that well in Australia and is still coming back from his various injuries. Still, you thought he would show up and win Rio de Janiero. But this time, he lost, falling to Fabio Fognini in the semis, 7-5 in the third. Check out the video of Fognini chasing down a net cord shot to win match point, which showcases his blinding speed.
The night before, he had to play against Pablos Cuevas that ended past 3 a.m. He was very angry and upset, and he had a legitimate point, but he still had to go back on the court and out stroke Fognini. The Italian has played better this year and out hit him. That is unusual, giving that Nadal is 321-25 wins/losses since 2002, so the 14-time champion was been lights out on clay. However, he is not all back yet and now he’s No. 4. If he is going to the top again, his body has to feel much cleaner.
By the way, the old vet who never steps down, No. 9 David Ferrer won the tournament over Fognini. The 32-year-old Ferrer won Doha, was smoked by Kei Nishikori in Australia, and moved the ball around very quickly in Rio. He just doesn’t go quietly into the sunset.