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Simon Captures Seventh ATP World Tour Crown

Metz, France

Gilles Simon© Getty ImagesGilles Simon is the fourth homegrown champion in Metz (since 2003).

Former World No. 6 Gilles Simon ended a 51-week title drought Sunday as he became the fourth French winner at the Open de Moselle with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over German qualifier Mischa Zverev in the final in Metz.

The Nice native, currently down at No. 41 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings after struggling with a right knee injury in the first half of the season, received a boost with 250 ranking points and €72,150 in prize money.

The 25-year-old Simon captured his seventh ATP World Tour title, his first since lifting the Bangkok trophy (d. Troicki) in October 2009. It is the second time the Frenchman has won an ATP World Tour title on home soil, also triumphing in Marseille in 2007.

The right-hander was accompanied this week by his family, including newborn son, Timothée, who arrived early on 2nd September while Simon was competing at the US Open in New York.

"I am extremely happy about this seventh title," declared Simon. "I was not supposed to come here initially; my son was due to be born this week so logically I hadn't entered any tournaments. Because I had been playing well, also in the Davis Cup preparation, I really wanted to try to compete and really wanted to come to Metz; I knew I could do something good.

"My son was born on 2nd September, so I haven't spent much time with him yet. As I decided to play this week I also decided to bring the family with me to Metz. I was in the unknown, I didn’t know how it was going to be, if he would keep me up at night, and in the end, the result is perfect. Everything went very well and I am delighted to get to share this title with my family today."

Victory in Metz marked a complete turnaround in fortunes at the event for Simon, who had failed to win a match in four previous visits to the tournament.

Tasked with overturning a 0-2 record against Zverev, Simon broke through in the sixth game and saved a break point in the following game before sealing a one-set lead. From 1-2 down in the second set the eighth seed stepped up a gear, breaking serve twice as he won the final five games of the match to clinch a comprehensive victory in just 67 minutes. Another impressive serving display from Simon saw him strike nine aces and win 84 per cent of points behind his first serve.

“It hasn’t been an easy year because of the injury and I am really happy about this victory," said Simon. "During my time off, I strengthened my upper body to try to improve my serve, to serve stronger and for longer and this week. My serve is what kept me in the matches even if I wasn’t playing so well.”

Simon, whose best previous results this season had been quarter-final showings in Eastbourne (l. to Llodra) and Washington (l. to Nalbandian), improved to a 15-12 match record.

World No. 155 Zverev is the lowest-ranked finalist on the ATP World Tour this season and, like Bucharest runner-up, Pablo Andujar, was hoping to become the first qualifier to win a title this season. The left-hander was contesting his first ATP World Tour singles final after not dropping a set all week.

“I was really excited to be in my first final, but he played really well," said Zverev. "Not only solid from the baseline as he is usually, but also aggressive as well, he served unbelievably. I couldn’t do much today. I love France and French tournaments, I feel great here and for sure I will come back.”

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©Lionel Maltese


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