Marathon Gilles: Simon Ousts Medvedev In Queen's Club Thriller
After defeating Nicolas Mahut on Friday in the longest match on record at The Queen’s Club since 1991 (three hours and 21 minutes), he took out fourth seed Daniil Medvedev 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes on Saturday to reach the final.
“It was hard to recover for this one. Daniil and I practise together and we knew it was going to be tough,” said Simon. “It’s hard for me to hit through him, but when you play a match and you’re a bit tired, sometimes you relax and play great. I was feeling the ball great, even if I wasn’t feeling great in the legs.”
The Frenchman is through to his first final of the season after semi-final finishes in Pune, Sydney and Marrakech. He seeks his first title on grass and to become the first French player to win this event.
“It’s a really hard tournament to win and one of the best in the season. You only have the top players who are able to win here,” said Simon. “I’d like to be part of that list, but I’m just focussed on recovering now and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Simon awaits the winner between eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and wild card Feliciano Lopez. Auger-Aliassime won his lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with Simon last week at the MercedesCup. Lopez leads Simon 5-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and has won all four of their grass-court meetings, including the 2013 Eastbourne final.
Saturday's semi-final started with both men trading a pair of early service breaks before comfortably holding serve throughout the rest of the opening set. Simon blinked first in the tie-break, hitting two consecutive errors to give Medvedev a 3/0 lead. The Russian rode the momentum and went on to take the early advantage.
The second set started identically to the first set, with service breaks in the second and third games. Grueling baseline rallies took their toll on Medvedev, who sat with an ice pack on his shoulder at changeovers and began to experience back pain.
With Simon standing well behind the baseline to track down the Russian’s flat forehands, the fourth seed’s error count increased as the Frenchman returned shots that would be winners against most players. Simon earned two set points on Medvedev’s serve at 4-5 and a forehand volley sent wide on the second opportunity forced a decider.
Medvedev’s lower back pain worsened in the final set. As he noticed the Russian frequently bending over and grimacing between points, Simon further extended the rallies. A 49-ball rally at 1-1, 30/40 highlighted this effort as Simon finished the point with a backhand winner.
His persistence paid off as Medvedev gifted a break at 3-4 with a double fault. The Frenchman raced through the last game to reach his 22nd ATP Tour singles final.