The “professor” bows out. French tennis player Gilles Simon, former world number six in the ATP rankings, ended his career on Thursday November 3 after his defeat in the round of 16 of the Paris Bercy Masters against Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime.
With his friends Gaël Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, he was part of the golden generation of French tennis. Due to a less flamboyant style of play than the other three, he remained more in the shadows. However, his analytical skills and his acute sense of tactics earned him the nickname of “professor”.
His career will notably have been crowned by 14 world titles and constant regularity at the highest level for many years. A look back at five milestones in a twenty-year professional tennis career.
2007, first victory in Marseille
Three years after entering the ATP circuit, Gilles Simon won his first title at the Marseille tournament in 2007. During his career, he beat several major players such as the Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the Swede Robin Söderling (first player to knock down Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros in 2009) or Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, Australian Open finalist the previous year.
The year 2007 is thus the year of revelation for the Frenchman, then 23 years old. During the Indian Wells Masters 1000, he lost for the first time a player ranked in the top 10 in the world (Tommy Robredo, 8th). In September, he won his second tournament of the year in Bucharest. These two successes allow him to climb to 29th place in the ATP rankings.
2008, victory over the mythical “Big Three”
The following year is for Gilles Simon that of confirmation. In 2008, he won three titles (Bucharest, Casablanca and Indianapolis). But it is above all the year during which he signs a feat that no other French player has been able to match. During the Canadian Masters, he eliminated world number one Roger Federer. In Madrid a few months later, he saved 17 match points to beat Rafael Nadal. Finally in Shanghai, he won his duel against Novak Djokovic. He is the only Frenchman to be able to boast of having dismissed the three monsters of world tennis.
2011, the greatest achievement
After a season marked by a long absence due to injury, the “professor” made his return to competition and won the Sydney tournament in January. He then chained several defeats in the first rounds and was even forced to retire due to injury during the Queen’s tournament on grass.
However, in July he won the ATP 500 tournament in Hamburg, twenty-five years after the success of Henri Leconte, which will remain the most prestigious title of his career. He eliminates during his career several titled players on several occasions, such as his compatriot Gaël Monfils, the Russian Mikhail Youzhny or the Spaniard Nicolás Almagro. The following years take place in halftone, weighed down in particular by several injuries.
2017, victory with the French team
Five victories for 14 games played in the Davis Cup. Competing in the blue jersey has never worked for Gilles Simon. He nevertheless remains titled in 2017 with the France team, although he was only aligned in the first round of the competition against Japan (victory in singles).
2019, the decline
Despite a lost final at the prestigious Queen’s tournament and participation in all the Masters, the year 2019 marks the beginning of the end of the Frenchman’s career. He regularly fails in the first round of various competitions and leaves the top 30 places in the ATP rankings at the end of the year.
He fell to 63rd place in the rankings in 2020, then to 155th in 2021, the year during which he chained 12 defeats in the first round of the tournaments in which he participated. In early 2022, he announced his retirement from sport at the end of the season.