Indian Tennis

Tata Open: Fighting back from a set down, Gilles Simon stuns top seed Marin Cilic

The Frenchman is ranked No 89 in the world while Cilic is ranked No 6.

Pune: Frenchman Gilles Simon continued his run of upsets at the Tata Open Maharashtra knocking out top seed Marin Cilic in the semi-final.

Coming from a set down, the world No 89 beat the former champion 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to book his place in the final on Saturday. In the gruelling one hour and 51 minute long match, Cilic took the early lead with a lights out display in the first set.

But Simon fought back to wrest the momentum after that and didn’t give in to his much-higher ranked opponent.

It was mostly one-way traffic in the first set as Cilic showed no mercy as he pounded aces and forehand winners to race to a 4-0 lead. Simon managed to hold his serve only once as he went down 6-1 in 27 minutes.

But the second set showed another version of Simon who had a positive 5-1 head-to-head record against the 2014 US champion before this match.

He began attacking Cilic’s serve a lot more, and on his part, the Croatian found it difficult to land his first serve right.

The Frenchman broke the top seed in two consecutive service games and blasted his way to a 4-0 lead in no time. Cilic looked like he was caught unaware and made several unforced errors to give away easy points.

He gave break points on all his service games but couldn’t break back after going two breaks down early against Simon.

Simon, on the other hand, egged on my a noisy crowd, didn’t let go any opportunity to induce an error from Cilic. He kept feeding short balls to the Croatian and duly kept hitting them in the net.

There were some flashes of form from Cilic but they were few and far between. Serving to stay in the set, he produced a super love hold but he couldn’t convert the break points he had in the next game and went down 3-6 after a 40 minute effort.

In the decider, Simon made his intent clear by breaking Cilic in the first game. However, as hard as he tried, Cilic just couldn’t break back. The second game saw some stunning rallies and went down to deuce four times but Simon maintained his hold.

A couple of holds later, Cilic began to get frustrated as he tried all tricks, from pushing Simon back to targeting his backhand.

But in the crucial seventh game, it was Simon who charged ahead and got the decisive break to lead 5-2.

Serving for the match, he wrapped it up quick, even as Cilic kept fighting. But as Cilic said after the match, he was not able to put his shots through as well he would have liked.

Simon will also be playing the doubles semifinal with Pierre-Hugues Herbert against India’s Yuki Bhambri and Divij Sharan later in the day.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

Play


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.