The 2009 and 2010 champion Cilic had previously played Simon on six occasions, losing to the Frenchman five times.
New Delhi: France’s Gilles Simon pulled off the biggest surprise of the day as he sent top seed and world no. 6 Marin Cilic packing in the semi-final of the Tata Open Maharashtra tennis tournament at the Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Friday.
Simon, world no. 89, beat tournament favourite Croatian 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The 2009 and 2010 champion Cilic had previously played Simon on six occasions, losing to the Frenchman five times. Therefore, it was important for the world no. 6 to begin the match well if he was to qualify for the final of the singles competition. He did exactly that as he served well in the first set, winning 11 out of 12 points off his first serve. The good start saw Cilic take a 5-0 lead in the set that was enough for him to take the first set.
It looked like the 29-year-old Cilic would run away with the game in the second set as well but it wasn’t to happen, as Simon looked lively, answering the crowd’s encouragement by displaying some amazing returns to make a comeback into the match.
The 33-year-old Frenchman pulled up his socks and led by four games to nil in the second set but Cilic came back to win the next two games to make it 4-2, still in Simon’s favour. However, in the seventh game, Simon held his serve at a crucial stage to lead 5-2.
Cilic also held his serve and hoped for the Frenchman to lose the ninth game but the world no. 89’s confidence rose as he won the second set.
In the decider, Simon broke Cilic’s serve in the first game itself and continued his momentum as he led 5-2 and was serving for the match. Cilic looked nothing like the player who began aggressively to win the first set, and it was the 33-year-old Simon who kept his calm and served superbly to make his way into the final.