HEAD racquet rebel Gilles Simon lifted his first title in Germany with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, defeat of Spain's Nicolas Almagro to win the ATP 500 bet-at-home.com Open in Hamburg. The No. 18, who plays with a YouTek Prestige MP, was the first from his nation to win the trophy at the event since Henri Leconte 25 years ago.
"It was a high intensity final," said Simon. "I knew before he could hit very hard, but also, he didn't miss anything. I really had to fight hard on every point. We played almost three hours and it was a really, really hard match. I had to win so many tough matches this week. I had to play my best tennis and I'm proud to win this tournament."
Simon beat HEAD stable mate Mikhail Youzhny (YouTek IG Extreme Pro) in the semi-finals in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 comeback. Simon improved to 9-2 in career ATP finals, as he won his second of the season following Sydney in January. Until this week, the 26-year-old had never been past the third round at the northern German venue.
The French No. 4 who has dealt with knee injuries over recent seasons has lifted his ATP ranking substantially and now stands just outside the Top 10 on 11th thanks to his victory. Simon improved his record this season to a 30-17, becoming the first Frenchman this season to lift a trophy. His last clay title came three years ago in Bucharest.