Gilles Simon polishes Open form with Kooyong win
Gilles Simon feels his fitness is finally returning after the Frenchman prepared for the Australian Open with a 6-4, 6-3 win at the Kooyong Classic on Thursday.
Melbourne: Gilles Simon feels his fitness is finally returning after the Frenchman prepared for the Australian Open with a 6-4, 6-3 win at the Kooyong Classic on Thursday.
The 30-year-old beat Serbian youngster Filip Krajinovic, with experience taking precedence over youth in 76 minutes.
In the other relegation-round game, promising Australian Jordan Thompson beat Spanish world number 14 Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
Simon's success at the eight-man special event, a tune-up for the first major of the season starting Monday, was reassuring for Frenchman who has been dealing with knee and back niggles over the past weeks.
He said he was pleased his body was starting to respond well after tough times last week at the Brisbane International where he exited early in pain.
"It's always disappointing to be injured," said Simon. "I always come early to Australia because I know I'm going to need days to adjust.
"It doesn't matter how I play, I just need to get the matches, even if I cannot move well. I was worried last week because after several weeks of physical work nothing was improving.
"I thought I would have a lot of time before the Open but suddenly the days were going by and nothing was improving.
"Suddenly I relaxed a bit and the next moment, things (fitness problems) were better."
The world number 20 now heads to Melbourne Park for a final few days of practice.
"I played much better today than yesterday," he said. "And conditions were better so that helped. I'm happy to win this match and take some confidence into the Open."
Conditions were much tamer after the swirling winds which limited shotmaking at Kooyong Club on Wednesday, when the tournament began a day late after a rain-off.
The 96th-ranked Krajinovic was broken in the second game of the contest. Simon was broken in the fifth game but claimed the set 6-4 in 34 minutes after converting on a second set point with a forehand winner.
In the second set, Simon broke for 4-2 and was forced to struggle in the final game as Krajinovic saved two match points before pushing a forehand long after 76 minutes.
Simon's best Melbourne Park showing was a 2009 quarter-final. He lost in the third round last year.
In the other Kooyong match, Thompson, who is ranked number 273 in the world, showed his speed around the court behind an impressive serve to outplay 33-year-old Lopez.
"I played really well today," he said. "He didn't play his best but I will definitely take that."