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Tennis.  Gilles Simon banishes his demons at the Open de Quimper – Tennis
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Tennis. Gilles Simon banishes his demons at the Open de Quimper – Tennis
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Quimper Open (ATP Challenger 80): Gilles Simon – Kacper Zuk, this Tuesday

Coming to play the Open de Quimper was not originally planned…

No, because I admit, I was hoping to do better in qualifying for the Australian Open. Before Melbourne, I competed in the Traralgon Challenger (160 km east of Melbourne) where I felt pretty good and so I told Marc (Gicquel) that I didn’t think I’d come to Quimper unless that was really bad afterwards. And it went very badly.

In fact, I had done a program with the Australian Open then the ATP 250 in Montpellier. But I played a really bad match at the Australian Open and came back faster than expected ten days ago. And since I was lucky enough to be invited to Quimper…

What is it like at 37, after such a career, to have to go through ATP Challenger tournaments again?

I hope it’s a momentary descent but it could be a permanent descent at my age. It’s not like I’m in mid-career like other players who have fallen back and hopefully come back like Lucas (Puglia). Now, I don’t know if I will do ten seasons in Challenger. If I start replaying better, I won’t need it anymore. Despite everything, I’m happy to take part in these events because we’re lucky to have great tournaments in France (Challengers) not far from home and it’s good as you get older because long trips hurt. Afterwards, the level is still very high in Challenger.

You come out of a complicated year with very few victories. How do you feel ?

2021 was a catastrophic season at all levels, it happened to me to have bad seasons but to make up for them with two or three good tournaments like the year when I made the final in Shanghai (ATP 1000 in 2014). But in 2021, there was not that. I sank and even when you’re at the bottom of the hole and you think you’ve hit rock bottom, you’re still digging. It allowed me to experience a lot of things.

For example ?

I thought to myself that at some point, everyone passes you by and you can no longer win a match. But I saw it more in terms of game, physical, whereas in my case, it was mainly mental. I didn’t expect to find that out so late and I thought I would have taken it cooler, when not at all. It added a hit of stress to me as if a serenity had gone and I found myself struggling much more against that than against a level of play or a failing physique. It’s paradoxical but it’s interesting, because it’s a new path for someone like me who loves to play tennis.

What are your goals ? Chain the matches?

Simply play matches, because chaining matches means winning them. And everyone wants to win. But that’s not always the right mindset to have. You also have to know how to detach yourself to be able to play liberated.

In Quimper, you can potentially find yourself in the semi-finals against Tsonga. Have you looked at the board?

I stopped doing it. Last year, I won my fourth match of the year at the US Open in August, after eight months. In these cases, the season is long… Reaching the semi-finals in Quimper means winning three games in a row and that hasn’t happened to me for a while. I know I can beat every player on the board but I can also lose to every one of them. There, it will be a bit of a surprise to see in what state of stress I will be, how much detachment I will have. I insist, but it’s what I’m working on at the moment because my level fluctuates enormously. I can be very high or very low like at the start of the year when I played two good matches at the Traralgon Challenger before a terrible relapse in the first round of the Australian Open qualifiers against a player (Edward Winter) who was playing -15.

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Tennis. Gilles Simon banishes his demons at the Open de Quimper – Tennis
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