TORONTO – Seed killers squared off in the first quarterfinal match of the Rogers Cup on Friday afternoon and at the end of a long three-set battle, only one was left standing.
After defeating the world’s No. 1 player Roger Federer, Gilles Simon continued his hot streak by outlasting Marin Cilic (3-6, 6-2, 6-3) in a close contest that really could have gone either way.
The tough schedule definitely had an effect on the players as both seemed rusty out of the gate. The difference undoubtedly was the fact that Gilles Simon seemed to pace himself better than his Croation opponent.
After Cilic held his serve in the opening game, he went on to break Simon in the second. Cilic had another three break chances in the fourth game, but the Frenchman managed to thwart each attempt.
From there, the second set almost seemed like a reverse mirror image of the first. This time, Simon broke Cilic’s serve in the second game. Cilic had three break chances of his own in the third game and failed to capitalize, and from there, Simon never looked back and went on to break Cilic again to win the set 6-2.
Conditioning was a major factor in the match, as the French player seemed to have a little more gas left in the tank when it mattered the most in the third set. Once again, there was another break in the second game and this time it was Simon breaking Cilic again. It was surprising to see how well the Frenchman could handle the Croat’s serve.
At a post-game press conference, Simon talked about how his body was feeling.
“Right now it’s difficult to walk,” he said. “But like usual, with a good massage and some stretching and a good rest, tomorrow I’ll be a new guy.”
Simon admitted that he felt the fatigue both before and after matches.
“Every time. I am playing with this every time. But like I said, when you are tired, that mean that you won some match,” he said. “Or if you are tired at the first match, that’s not good for you. But if you win nine match in a row like this, even if you are tired you play with the confidence. The confidence is more important than to be exhausted at the end of the point.”
When asked about his semi-final match against the day’s other quarterfinal winner Nicolas Kiefer, Simon said he was ready to extend the biggest run of his career.
“Nicolas is a good player. Can be a surprise, but not a big surprise that he won today, because was maybe No.4 in the world. He was injured, but he played some good tournaments this year. He played semi in Hamburg, so it will a hard match like usual.”
The tournament’s biggest surprise said that he was willing to leave it all on the court for a chance to advance to Sunday’s final.
“I just hope that we are going to play a great match with a great fight. Even if I died on the court, yeah, I just give the maximum tomorrow.”