Catching Up With… Gilles Simon
by Matt Fitzgerald
Gilles Simon is working his way back up the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings after recovering from a knee injury.
Gilles Simon is one of the toughest players on tour to beat when he’s at his best. He may not be considered to have one defining shot, but possesses the firepower and intelligence to hit toe-to-toe with the likes of Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych.
The former World No. 6 has won eight ATP World Tour titles, reached the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in 2008 and is approaching 200 tour-level singles wins. Out for a large stretch of last season with a recurring knee issue, the Frenchman is now hitting his stride, and has moved back inside the Top 30 of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings for the first time since May 2010.
We caught up with the No. 25 seed at the Sony Ericsson Open after his 6-4, 6-3 second round victory over qualifier Rainer Schuettler on Saturday.
You began year with a title in Sydney and a five-set clash with Roger Federer at the Australian Open. How do you feel about your form coming into Miami compared to last year when you were here, struggling with injuries?
I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve had some consistent results so far. It’s definitely feels much better than last year with the knee problems I had. In Marseille last year, I felt pain in my knee. After Dubai, I flew to the States and struggled, especially in Miami. After losing there, I had a second surgery and was out for three months.
This year has been nice so far. My ranking has moved up and it’s hard to do that when you haven’t played a full year of tennis in a row. I have no points to defend until Wimbledon, so I’m aiming to continue playing well and improve my ranking even more.
Your son was born during the US Open in 2010. What has this life-changing event meant to you and has it changed your approach to the game in any way?
It’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It’s wonderful having a family, and I really love it when Timothee and Carine are with me at the tournaments.
It hasn’t really changed how I look at the game. Unfortunately when you’re on court, you have to focus on tennis. But I miss them when they’re not traveling with me. I remember last week when I lost at Indian Wells, I had to wait ten days… it was a long wait. I was so happy when my family arrived here.
You’re one of a handful of players to have a least one victory over each of the current Top 5. What is it about your game that makes you a formidable opponent?
I’m more confident when I play the top opponents. It’s a strength, but also a weakness; my level and confidence is higher when I play the best players and I always seem to bring out my greatest tennis in those match-ups.
With the lower-ranked players, it’s more complicated. Like today, I was up 5-1, 40-15 and then all of a sudden it was 5-2, 5-3, 5-4… it’s almost impossible for me to win a match 6-2, 6-2!
I’m told you like McDonalds. What makes you crave their food? Do you have a favorite item on the menu and does France have anything unique that’s not here in the States?
Haha. McDonalds is perfect. It doesn’t look good to some people but I love it. The best thing about McDonalds is you can find one anywhere. When I spend two, three hours on court playing tennis, I can eat whatever I want because I deserve to.
Even when I was injured last year, I was eating it. It didn’t go down so well with my wife… she doesn’t like it. But I wasn’t gaining any weight and when I play tennis, I work hard, so why not eat there?
I don’t have a clear favorite item but I like the McBacon. To answer your question, this is something I get in France and I haven’t seen in the US. They should add it to their restaurants over here!
Last year when the commentators kept saying that he had surgery, I thought they were misinformed, but it seems that he really did have surgery
And it seems he did get married ...(no photos