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Tennis: for his last Roland-Garros, Gilles Simon prolongs the pleasure and reaches the 3rd round

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Gilles Simon, 158th in the world, qualified Thursday for the 3rd round of his 17th and last Roland-Garros before retiring at the end of the year, dominating the American Steve Johnson (92nd) 7-5, 6-1, 7-6 (8/6), thus signing his 500th victory on the circuit. He will have to beat Marin Cilic to reach the round of 16.

Gilles Simon, 158th in the world, qualified Thursday for the 3rd round of his 17th and last Roland-Garros before retiring at the end of the year, dominating the American Steve Johnson (92nd) 7-5, 6-1, 7-6 (8/6), thus signing his 500th victory on the circuit. At 37, Simon therefore prolongs the pleasure at Roland-Garros where the public at the Philippe-Chatrier court wore him again on Thursday. He will have to beat the Croatian Marin Cilic (23rd) on Saturday to reach the round of 16 and thus equal his best performance on Parisian clay.

A match won in straight sets

“I was tired at the end and, usually, I’m the only one who wants this ‘chip’ to come out. But now, everyone wanted it… and it came out!” Simon told the audience. in reference to Johnson’s umpteenth and final backhand cut that landed on the wrong side of the line. “The four hooligans over there (showing young boys in the stands, editor’s note), are mine! It must be five years since they last saw their dad play, I’m happy to have the chance to give them that moment,” he said.

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Unlike the first round where he had been embarked on a long fight in five sets when he had led two sets to zero, Simon this time was able to conclude in three dry sets. “I had an unreal match two days ago. It was different there, I was under enormous stress at the start,” he revealed, explaining that he was afraid of having a bad match after the match. heroic victory of the first round. “At 3-0, it was off to a bad start … I was useless. You say to yourself ‘it has to come'”, he commented again. Sure enough, it came: he then won 12 of the 14 games that followed to win the first set and come away 5-0 in the second.

End of career after 20 years on the circuit

By exchanging service games twice, the two players came to a tie break in the third set. Simon offered himself a first match point at 6/5, but concluded on the 2nd, on this famous “chip” too long from Johnson which caused the explosion of the Philippe-Chatrier court. “I spoke less with you because I needed to manage my energy, but I knew you were there. All it takes is one look and you feel like you have everyone with you,” he said. he made a point of saying to the public before leaving the court.

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The former world number 6, down to 158th, announced on May 7 that his body was no longer able to keep up and that he would end his 20-year career at the end of the year. . Three times he reached the round of 16 at Roland-Garros, without managing to go beyond (2011, 2013, 2015). He had his best Grand Slam result at the 2009 Australian Open and 2015 Wimbledon by making it to the quarter-finals. Winner of the 2017 Davis Cup, he has 14 titles to date.

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