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Simon Edges Almagro To Capture Ninth Title

Hamburg, Germany

Simon© ATPGilles Simon won his ninth ATP World Tour title on Sunday.

World No. 18 Gilles Simon won his second ATP World Tour title of the season on Sunday as he battled past No. 14 Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the final of the bet-at-home Open – German Tennis Championships 2011 in Hamburg.

Simon is the first Frenchman to win the title at the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament since Henri Leconte 25 years ago (d. Mecir). He earned €230,000 and 500 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points, which will move him up to World No. 11; he began the season at No. 44. "I feel very, very good. I had to win so many tough matches this week," Simon told ATPWorldTour.com. "Today, the final was really hard to win. I had to play my best tennis to win and I'm proud to win this tournament."

The 26-year-old Simon was also victorious at the Medibank International Sydney in January and has now won nine ATP World Tour titles; this was his first clay-court victory since winning the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest in 2008 (d. Moya).

The fifth-seeded Simon clinched the first set against Almagro after breaking the Spaniard’s serve in the fifth game. However he quickly fell behind in the second set as the third-seeded Almagro raced to a 3-0 lead and had points for a double break.

The Spaniard was unable to convert, though, and Simon seized the initiative to mount a comeback, reeling off four straight games to lead by a break at 4-3. Almagro stopped the run of games against him by breaking to level at 4-4, and forced a deciding set as he claimed the next two games.

Undeterred, Simon did not let the disappointment linger and broke decisively at the start of the third set before going on claim the hard-fought victory in two hours and 38 minutes. "It was a high intensity final. I think Nicolas played very good tennis, very consistent," said Simon. "I knew before he could hit very hard, but also, he didn't miss anything, so I really had to fight hard on every point. We played almost three hours and it was a really, really hard match."

"I think the first game of the third set, I didn't play my best tennis. That game, I made three mistakes in the important moments," admitted Almagro. "He played really well. I had many break points and didn't do anything on many of them. Congratulations to him as he played really good all week."

The 25-year-old Almagro went into the final with an ATP World Tour-best 30 clay-court match wins this season. The Murcia native, who will move into the Top 10 on Monday, was bidding for his fourth clay-court crown of the season, having triumphed at the Brasil Open in Costa do Sauipe (d. Dolgopolov), the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires (d. Chela) and the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur (d. Hanescu). He also finished runner-up at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco (d. Ferrer). "I'm happy with my level of tennis on clay all year," Almagro said. "I was champion at three tournaments and reached two finals. When you're in a final, you want to win, but today was impossible because he was better than me in the important moments."

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