at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Thailand– Frenchman Gilles Simon moved to within one win of a second title at the Thailand Open as he reached his second final of the season on Saturday 6-4, 6-4 over top seed Janko Tipsarevic.
Simon, who won the 2009 trophy at the Impact arena, will await an opponent as compatriot and second Richard Gasquet plays Finland's number seven Jarkko Nieminen, runner-up in 2010.
Simon said he took full advantage of a welcome state of fitness on the day after battling the past few seasons with problems including his knee and back, and currently, a shoulder niggle.
“Every time I go into a match feeling good, it puts pressure on me,” said the ATP number 19 who has struck out on his own after splitting amicably with coach Thierry Tulasne. “I feel that I need to take advantage of whatever fitness I have.”
Simon came out the better on a number of long rallies with Tipsarevic, who was aiming to win a second Asian title after claiming Kuala Lumpur honours a year ago this week.
But the Frenchman maintained control throughout after starting the afternoon with a break of serve.
“I played very good today,” said the winner, who improved to 4-1 over the Serb ranked ninth in the world and contending for a place in the eight-man season final in London in November.
“I don't think I could do better. Tipsarevic has been playing amazing tennis the past two seasons and he's hard to defeat. For me this was almost the perfect match.”
Simon is bidding to win his second title of 2012 after Bucharest on clay in April. The Frenchman's win was his 38th of the season against 20 defeats.
Simon won the first set in 45 minutes, saving a break point in the final game of the set as his volley hit the top of the net. He then broke in the ninth game of the second set after Tipsarevic had saved three break points in that long game.
The French fourth seed closed out victory a game later with an ace called good after a challenge.
“It's great to be in a final, that means another tough match,” said Simon. “But it also means I've been successful this week.
“It's nice to be playing such good tennis again, I never know when I'm going to be feeling fit so I have to take advantage. With my body, it's not always easy. I can't always count on being healthy.” – AFP