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Snakes n’ Ladders: Simon up seven

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Originally published on: 25/07/11 10:14

Gilles Simon made the biggest leap up the ladder in the top 50 on Monday, rising seven places to No.11 after defeating three top 20 players to win his ninth career title at the bet-at-home.com Open – German Tennis Championships 2011. 

The 26-year-old Frenchman defeated compatriot Gael Monfils, Mikhail Youzhny and clay court expert Nicolas Almagro en route to the title in Hamburg, where he doubled his silverware haul for the season having won in Sydney at the turn of the year.

“I feel very, very good,” said Simon. “I had to win so many tough matches this week. The final was really hard to win. I had to play my best tennis to win and I’m proud to win this tournament.”

Almagro, whose 6-4 4-6 6-4 defeat to the former world No.6 was his second in three career meetings with Simon, returned to the top 10 – climbing four places from No.14 – by virtue of reaching his fifth final of the year.

“I’m happy with my level of tennis on clay all year,” said the Murcia native. “I was champion at three tournaments and reached two finals. When you’re in a final, you want to win, but today was impossible because he was better than me in the important moments.”

Meanwhile, Mardy Fish closed the gap on world No.8 Tomas Berdych to just 35 points after hitting back from the brink against countryman John Isner to defend his title at the Atlanta Tennis Championships.

The 29-year-old American fought off two straight match points in the second set and rallied back from a 5-1 deficit in the tiebreak to win 3-6 7-6(6) 6-2.

“When you’re in that position, it’s almost over,” said Fish. “I was lucky to get out of it. I played some good points. I don’t think he missed any first serves there. I stuck some returns and put some balls in play.”

Isner, who had looked to win a second straight ATP tournament for the first time in his career after winning the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, lamented his missed opportunity on match point.

“In hindsight, I probably should’ve served and volleyed on the second serve,” conceded the 26-year-old. “He got it in play, and I went with too big of a backhand and missed it by a lot. You know, he played that point well. And the next points after that, he served two really good serves. But that’s what happens.”

The former world No.18 has seemingly got his season back on track on his favoured American hard courts after a stuttering start to the year, rising two places to No.33, but he struggled to hide his disappointment after losing his third battle with Fish on a US hard court.

“It’s still a good week,” reasoned the 6’9″ right-hander. “I really, really wish I could’ve won this title. It wasn’t to be.”

On the women’s ladder, Ksenia Pervak climbed to a career-high No.51 after her run to the final of the Baku Cup. The 20-year-old Russian reached her first WTA final at the Azerbaijan tournament, but proved unable to negotiate the final test of countrywoman Vera Zvonareva, who won her 12th career title after prevailing 6-1 6-4.

“Vera is a really good player and has a lot of experience. It was tough to play against her,” said Pervak, who also made the fourth round of Wimbledon this July. “I don’t think I showed my best game but I didn’t play that badly in the second set. It was a really tough match but I played well.”

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