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Gilles Simon looks for a Shanghai ticket in Paris

Text by Emmanuel VERSACE

Latest update : 2008-10-29

France's new number one player became a household name as he stormed into the Madrid Masters final. He is now ranked 9th world player, just one place away from the Shanghai Masters.

During the first months of the year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Australian open and Gael Monfils in Roland Garros overshadowed Gilles Simon on the French side.

But it is not a matter of luck if the 23-year-old player from Nice finds himself at the top of French tennis and ranked ninth- best player in the world.

At the Madrid Masters, the spotlight turned to the winner of the Casablanca, Indianapolis and Bucharest tournaments -- although he did not win in Spain.

Simon's father calls him “chick” because he weighs 63kg and plays in gawdy yellow. Yet he has beaten players who could have been in postes hanging on his bedroom wall a few years ago.

Simon started by overpowering American James Blake before defeating world #1 Rafael Nadal in front of his home crowd in this October’s Madrid Masters semi-final. Both failed to cope with the young player’s endurance.

Simon lost the final to an efficient Andy Murray, playing at the top of his game. But France’s new top player said he still can improve.

His coach, Thierry Tulasne, himself a former play ranked tenth worldwide, talked up the tactical and physical potential of his protégé in an interview with the sports channel L’Equipe TV.

With just a couple of weeks to go until the Shanghai Masters, Gilles Simon hopes to join the world’s tennis elite in China for the final tournament of the season. For this, he needs to overtake Juan Martin Del Potro in the ATP rankings, and Paris is his last chance to do so.

Date created : 2008-10-26

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