Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gilles Simon? Never heard of him

On the court, Roger Federer fears no man. If anything, he's probably equipped with an acid stare that melts whatever opponent was foolish enough to step out on the court with him.

Were it me, in an internationally televised major open, while playing a sport that I have made into my career, I would rather face six swarming beehives than Federer. (While it would be the three longest sets of my life, at least, barring some shocking strength, communication and teamwork on the bees' end, I would win and move on.)

 "Bees have no backhand."

There is one man who sees Roger Federer and does not flinch. He is tennis' mongoose to the Swiss king cobra. That man is Gilles Simon. He's French, and he doesn't care how many Grand Slams you have won.

Prior to their second round match in the Australian Open on Jan. 19, Simon had a 2-0 record against the 16-time Grand Slam winner, and very nearly brought it to 3-0 before the day was out. Simon brushed off dropping the first two sets to claim the third and fourth, finally losing on the fifth match point (6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3).

In an interview with the Associated Press after the game, Federer said, "I'm happy I survived a scare like today. It's not the first time ... it does happen. You just try to stay calm even though I'm not playing for much. He's playing for the huge upset, and I'm just trying to get through." He also more bluntly said in an interview with, "Hopefully I don't play him anymore."

Federer said that after a second round matchup, a round that he has been able to glide over lighter than a tiny hovercraft over a freshly-poured stout. The man has not lost the second round of a major since winning his first major (Wimbledon, no less) in 2003. 

To put that into perspective, that was roughly two weeks before Kobe Bryant's Eagle, Colo. incident. It was the brief time period where Clay Aiken was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

"Seriously, why do I know that?"

The man is so on top of his game that, during that same time frame, he has only lost two Grand Slam matches through the fourth round. Raphael Nadal (The Batman to Federer's Superman), in that same time period although with 20 fewer appearances, has lost four times in the first four rounds. (The Wall Street Journal gave me those last two nuggets, but went with "Hawkgirl to Federer's Black Canary".)

Simon defeated Yen-Hsun Lu for the second time in 2011 (We'll call Lu the earthworm of Simon's mongoose diet.) in the first round in order to face Federer. Also, before the Australian Open, Simon defeated Viktor Triocki to win the ATP Medibank International. That should make up for his first round exit in the ATP Brisbane International just prior. No? C'mon. It was played on Jan. 2 in Australia. To the rest of the world, that is still Jan. 1, Hangover Day.

And this was just Welch's white grape juice

I say that 2011 is looking pretty good for the No. 34-ranked player in the world. Not bad for a guy nobody had previously heard of who just lost.


Blogger Marcus said...

We want more! We want more!

January 21, 2011 at 8:31 AM 

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