(Reuters) - France’s Gilles Simon felled giant South African Kevin Anderson in the Maharashtra Open final in Pune on Saturday to claim his first title in nearly three years.
The 33-year-old former world number six, who slipped to 89th in the rankings after a disappointing 2017, capped a resurgent start to the year with a 7-6(4) 6-2 defeat of last year’s U.S. Open runner-up -- his first win over 2.03m tall Anderson.
Simon beat each of the tournament’s top three seeds on his way to the title, having knocked out Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in round two before taking out top seed Marin Cilic.
Playing with his trademark fluency and nimble footwork, Simon kept Anderson guessing and after coming back from 1-3 down in the first-set tiebreak he won a 39-stroke rally to snatch the first set.
He dominated thereafter as world number 14 Anderson struggled to stem the errors. Anderson dropped serve twice in the second set and was well-beaten in the end.
“It’s the first time I managed to beat him,” Simon said after collecting his 13th career title.
“I still don’t know how I did it. I‘m really, really happy I was able to make it.”
Anderson, who will be aiming to go past the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time later this month, had few complaints. “It was a really tough match. He’s a terrific player,” he said. “Obviously last year was a little tough for him but obviously he’s back in good form.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Martyn Herman