France’s Simon wins first ATP title in three years


PUNE: French veteran Gilles Simon rolled back the years on Saturday, claiming the ATP Maharashtra Open title with a straight-sets victory over second seed Kevin Anderson.

The 33-year-old triumphed over the South African 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in the Indian city of Pune to grab his first title since 2015.

Anderson, the losing finalist in the 2017 US Open, was the favourite going into the showdown but the day belonged to Simon, ranked 89th in the world.

“It’s the first time I have managed to beat him. I still don’t know how I did it,” said Simon in comments released by the organisers.

“I’m really, really happy I was able to make it.”

The Frenchman performed sensationally throughout the week, defeating the three top seeds at the $500,000 hard-court event.

Simon beat third seed and defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round before overcoming top seed and world number six Marin Cilic in the semi-finals.

The right-handed Simon endured a torrid 2017, dropping out of the top 50 in the rankings for the first time since 2005.

But his 2018 season could not have got off to a better start as he collected the winner’s cheque of $89,435 and 250 ATP ranking points.

It was the Frenchman’s 13th ATP title and his first since the Open 13 in Marseille three years ago.

The Maharashtra Open is viewed as a key warm-up event for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on January 15.