Jun/20

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How Federer Solved The Simon Puzzle

Roger Federer struggled mightily to solve the Gilles Simon puzzle back in 2008, losing twice, both in three sets to the Frenchman at Masters Cup 46 64 63 and Canada Masters 26 75 64.

Federer was still a top force, in 2008, at age 27 he won the 2008 US Open but for some reason he had difficulties with Simon who rose from 29 at the end of 2007 to the top ten at the end of 2008, and no. 6 in January 2009.

After those 2008 defeats, Federer had to wait three years to avenge Simon. Their third clash was in the second round at the 2011 Australian Open. Again, they battled the distance to five sets with Federer prevailing 62 63 46 46 63.

Before the match Federer said about possibly facing Simon: “If I do play him; if he was to win – if I do play him, maybe I will look just a bit more into what has worked and what has not worked against him in the past.
Obviously, it’s up to Paul (Annacone) and Severin (Luthi) to give me advice on how to play him. Then it’s up to me to mentally try to forget those matches or remember the good things I did, because both matches we did play against each other were close. No excuses – but I came in, it was the back issue at the Masters. But, look, he played well. He was on a great run there, playing the finals I think in Madrid, beating Rafa there. So he’s beaten the best in the world really. If he can do it once, he always feels he can do it again, which he did against me. It’s a tricky second round for me if I play Simon. Even if I don’t play him, the other guy is very good, too.”

Federer said the two losses to Simon were still vividly memorable over two years later. ” When you lose, you have a few days to think about it, or a couple times even a few weeks. Not that you’re going to think about it all day long and in your dreams, but it for sure sticks with you longer.
That’s why I do remember the matches with Simon vividly, to be quite honest.”

Beating Simon for the first time was a major task. Federer analyzed his first win vs Simon: “I came out and played great. (The previous losses) didn’t really affect me. But he hasn’t been no. 6 in the world for nothing — what was he, No. 6 in the world? He’s beaten me twice, Rafa before, other players before at the very top. He’s got something special in his game that really can be very tricky for us. I think obviously he raises his game against the best players. The better the ball he gets the better he plays, really. But I was able to outplay him early on. And I think through really cold weather almost towards the end, it was harder and harder to really put balls away, and that got him on so many more balls that in the beginning he couldn’t get on.
I think that’s just what made it so hard for me to readjust tactically against him. But, look, he played great and fought so hard. It was a very intense match. Maybe it wasn’t the longest one. We didn’t take much time between points so, and I think that’s why it was so short but exciting match to play. “

Federer would advance to the semis where he lost to Djokovic 76 75 64 (Djokovic beat Murray in the final).

Never again would Federer lose to Simon, winning six more meetings, to lead the overall head to head 7-2. Their last match was 2018 Basel QF, Fed won 76 46 64.

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1 comment

  • Sam · June 25, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Well, apparently Simon just defended Djokovic from all the backlash. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders.

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