Kevin Anderson took the first set to a tiebreaker, but Gilles Simon was just too good in the Maharashtra Open final on Saturday. Photo: @KAndersonATP via Twitter

CAPE TOWN – Unseeded Gilles Simon, a former World No 6, outsmarted second seed Kevin Anderson to lift the ATP250 Series title with a 7-6(4) 6-2 win at the Tata Maharashtra Open in Pune, India, on Saturday.

Two factors which were key to Simon’s straight-set conquest was his ability to cope with Anderson’s booming serve and the latter’s poor return of serve performance on the day in a contest that lasted 97 minutes.

The victory was Frenchman Simon’s first win over South Africa’s Anderson in four meetings. The title was Simon’s 13th on the ATP Tour and his first since the Marseille Open three years ago.

“I did not have a great season last year, but I am very happy and excited to have started the season by winning the title here in India,” said 33-year-old Simon, who has a world ranking of 89.

“It was a great match, I don’t know how I did it. To beat Anderson in the final is a great achievement for me. I managed to stay calm and play my game.

“My ranking is pretty low, I will work on that. I really had a good connection with fans. Already in the first round, they were happy for me. They loved the way I played. It helps to play your best tennis.”

The 31-year-old Anderson, who is ranked 14th, said he battled to cope with Simon’s tactics.

“He incorporated the style, the tactics of the match against (Marin) Cilic (in Friday’s semi-final). His defence was excellent, and I found it difficult to attack him,” said Anderson.

“It was a disappointing (match) for me. Partly he played very smartly and partly I didn’t execute my game. He was very patient today. In previous matches I was aggressive at times, today I could not do it.”

This was Anderson’s final tournament ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne starting on Monday, January 15.

African News Agency (ANA)