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Simon retires hurt, Gasquet reaches final

Melbourne – Richard Gasquet reached the final of the Kooyong Classic on Friday as fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon rolled his ankle and was forced to retire on the eve of the Australian Open.

Simon turned his right ankle on the first point of the second game of the second set after Gasquet won the first set in 51 minutes, handing the match to his countryman 7-6 (7/4), 1-0.

Richard Gasquet of France in action against Gilles Simon. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images. Credit: Getty Images

“It's tough to see a good friend in this condition,” said Gasquet, who added that the back problems he felt in previous matches were becoming less of a problem.

“I hope the problem won't affect his Australian Open.”

Simon was preparing to hit a return when he started hopping in pain and then fell to the court. He got to the sidelines but found that the eight-man exhibition event did not have the standard ice and a physio available on court.

The Frenchmen used a cold drinks bottle to try and slow the swelling before officials arrived.

After several minutes Simon withdrew and was helped off court, limping.

Gasquet said that he was satisfied with his form in the abbreviated contest, played in the sweltering heat in excess of 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) which is expected to continue when the Open starts on Monday.

“It was good to get another match, I need as many of them as possible before the Open. I'm also glad we were able to play in the heat,” he said.

Gasquet will on Saturday play for the title against Tomas Berdych after the Czech clinched his spot on Wednesday with a defeat of Japan's Kei Nishikori.

“I'm feeling better and better the more I play but I will have to lift my level tomorrow against Tomas,” he said.

“He's been in the top 10 for four or five years now, he's very consistent and hits the ball hard. It will be another difficult match.”

With the first Grand Slam of the season starting on Monday, Simon, seeded 18 at the Australian Open, faces a race for fitness prior to his first round match against Germany's Daniel Brands. – Sapa-AFP

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