Gilles Simon, ‘The Professor’ who has just scored 500 | ATP Circuit

The last setback of Steve Johnson had gone too far and gil simonHis temples graying, he let out a cry. The crowd at court Philip Chatrier rose as one and Simon, playing his end Roland Garrosenjoyed their applause.

A few minutes later, the weary 37-year-old slowly removed the tape from his fingers and looked at the red clay beneath his feet. A small smile finally crossed his face as the weight of his epic achievement washed over him. By defeating Johnson 7-5, 6-1, 7-6(6) on Wednesday, the French wild card won his 500th tour-level match.

“Ah, 500,” Simon told ATPTour.com in an exclusive interview afterwards. “It’s a good number that I managed to reach. He would have survived if he hadn’t, of course. But, yes, it is another achievement. To have 500 Tour wins, I’m quite happy.”

Most Wins by a Frenchman (Open Era)

Before the tournament started, Simon, two match wins before the milestone, reiterated that this would be his last season. A reporter asked him if he was disappointed that he did not reach the 500-win mark.

“That’s not easy,” Simon said. “We’ll see. Honestly, it won’t change anything in my life. Whether I reach that goal or not is irrelevant.”

After dispatching Johnson, it seemed to mean more to Simon. “It’s a very long journey,” he said. “Many matches after 17 years on Tour: you have good memories, bad memories, everything. I’ve been through almost everything. These numbers help you understand and realize what you did.”

Compatriot arthur rinderknech said of Simon, “He doesn’t seem like the strongest or biggest player, but at the end of the day when I was young, I watched him on TV and he was driving these guys crazy with his game. It shows how much tennis is a mental game and you have to play smart.”

Richard Gasquet, who with 574 career wins has more match wins than any other Frenchman, knows Simon better than most, having spent close to two decades on Tour with him. “He is an incredible player. They all fought him,” Gasquet said. “He was playing very smart on the court. He was never lost. Great talent. His ball hitting, forehand, backhand was unbelievable. All the players in the world can tell you that he fought against gil simon. Tactically it was very difficult to play against him”.

France has generously shared its tennis talent over the years. henry leconte was a finalist in 1988 in Roland Garroswhile kind forget reached five Grand Slam quarterfinals and rose to the position of Roland Garros tournament manager. cedric piolin he reached two Grand Slam finals and, like the two players mentioned, reached the Top 5.

So did he too Jo-Wilfried Tsongagrand finalist (2008 australian open), winner of 18 titles and more than $22 million in prize money before retiring earlier this week. yannick noahthe beloved winner of Roland Garros in 1983, he won 23 titles and rose to No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

And now, in the final business of match wins, Simon has outdone them all. The resilient Frenchman’s victory over Johnson made him the 56th player in the Open Era to achieve this heady milestone. For the record, he’s 500-390, good for a .562 winning percentage. Simon has amassed an impressive 14 titles and earned over $15 million.

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Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Incredibly, Simon and Hugo Gaston they are the last two Frenchmen standing in Roland Garros. Simon, who last reached the third round in 2018, finds himself Marin Cilic on Saturday for a chance to advance to the fourth round.

“Ultimately, I’ve wanted to be a tennis player since I was a kid, since I was 10 years old,” Simon said. “This is the only thing I did. You are not perfect. You can’t be perfect all the time. It is not a matter of wins and losses, of classification. It is beyond that. If I had to pass judgment on my career, things could have been better. There are games that I could have won, but there are also many games that I could have lost.”

He was born on the outskirts of Paris in 1984 and, encouraged by his parents, started playing tennis at the age of six. In his early teens, a professional career seemed unlikely; Simon didn’t see a growth spurt until much later than his peers. Still he admired the 5 foot 9 miguel changWho won Roland Garros in 1989.

Simon turned pro in 2002, two decades ago. His first victory at the ATP level came in February 2005 in Marseille, over Thomas Johanson. Two months later, Simon reached the quarterfinals in Casablanca before reaching the main draw of his first major, Roland Garros.

His first title came two years later, at the Open 13 in Marseille, and confirmed Simon’s ability to compete with the best players in the game. defeated Lleyton Hewitt, jonas björkman Y soderling robin and ultimately managed marcos bagdatis. A second title (Bucharest) catapulted him into the Top 30.

A year later, after a second-round win over Roger Federer at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, it was the Top 15 for Simon. That fall, with a semifinal win over Rafael Nadal in Madrid, Simon found himself in the Top 10 for the first time, and the French number 1, ahead of Gasquet. Simon qualified for 2008 Nitto ATP Finalssurprising Federer in the round robin phase, before falling to Novak Djokovic in a three-set semi-final loss.

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In 2011, Simon won the biggest title of his career, in Hamburg. He earned his 400th win from him, over the No. 3 ranked Stan Wawrinkain 2016 Shanghai Rolex Masters. Twice – in 2009 australian open and 2015 Wimbledon – Simon reached the quarterfinals.

Simon didn’t have the flashy weapons some of his peers possessed, but he had undeniable cunning and a rare, intuitive feel for the game.

French Benjamin Bonzi described him “Like a teacher on the tennis court. All about his strategy, his physical movement and everything. He put something different in tennis. He wasn’t very powerful, he didn’t have a great serve. When he was at his best, his movement was very good and he put the ball in difficult positions”.

Compatriot benoit paré it also highlighted Simon’s tactical brilliance. “He’s one of the smartest players on the court,” Paire said. “He’s very talented because everyone says, ‘Okay, he plays from the baseline.’ But what he’s doing his whole career and being in the Top 10 like that is kind of crazy.”

“I did the best I could,” Simon said. “Could I have done better? Yes. Could it have been less good? Of course, yes, too. I tried to do my best all the time. Did I manage to be proud? Yes, sometimes. That is an integral part of a tennis career.

“Year after year, of course, you actually live all kinds of feelings. Sometimes you lead and lose. Sometimes you’re really down and you end up winning. It’s not about the biggest tournament won or anything like that. After 17 years, I have given my best. I gave everything I had.”

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