From Simon to 'Gillou', the ugly duckling's revenge at Roland-Garros

From Simon to ‘Gillou’, the ugly duckling’s revenge at Roland-Garros

#Simon #Gillou #ugly #ducklings #revenge #RolandGarros

at Roland Garros,

It seems that many times we begin to believe in God before the imminence of death, sometimes it is useful for later. The French public did not wait for the last sacraments of Gilles Simon to start loving him, but he took his time, the bastard, he boiled like never before the other night against Carreño, and he won again two days later against Johnson. Fifteen years that the greatest mentalist on the circuit has held the candle, one day for Tsonga, another for Monfils, and then also for Gasquet while we are there. For fifteen years he has been waiting for his moment of glory just for him.

We watched out of curiosity: the former 6th player in the world in 2008, his best year on tour, once found himself as the last musketeer standing. It was at Wimbledon in 2009, for an eighth final immediately lost, immediately forgotten. On the contrary? Otherwise always a friend to steal the show and the accompanying media coverage.

“They prevented me from dreaming”

What better way to illustrate the misunderstanding than at Roland-Garros? A single peak of heat in a great fortnight of participation, and the 8th final against Federer well fitted in the Central. But here, it was Federer upfront, the only player to split the crowd even outside, Simon ending up patting, and then going to send Tsonga into fourth in a fratricidal clash. We found what we wrote at the time out of curiosity:

“After a difficult first week in which his matches were often overshadowed by the exploits of a Monfils and the power of a Tsonga, whom he could have met in the quarter-finals, Gilles Simon almost crashed for the first time against the roller coaster of Roland-Garros. in his career. »

This damned skepticism, already, has accompanied Simon since childhood. The story is well known, but still: you have to know how he crushed and still crushes the affected brain. Read what he says about it in the 40-A magazine, just before the tournament. “When I was a teenager, what they told me was ‘you won’t make it, you won’t make it, you won’t make it, it’s real trauma. At 15 I’m 15/2, Ricardo I don’t see him anymore. I see Jo coming back from the Open of Australia junior and going back to South America, I’m playing in Béthune and Vitry-Le-François… We said, “Wait, it’s good that you’re here”. It’s good, but well, I would have liked to go even higher. But it’s still difficult to project when everyone tells you you won’t make it. They kept me from dreaming.”

The famous high-level athlete syndrome that was built alone and against everyone is often silently accredited by the INSEP officials of the time. Borgia: “Not many of us believed in him. It must be said that he does not win many games and that he is not very rigorous. Some took it as a joke, I didn’t. “Simon will maintain a form of resentment and sometimes restraint with the media. However, when the guy starts talking about tennis, everyone’s ears open. During our last interview, we heard him spice up the governance of tennis with delight: “The coaches on the ground, different formats, a great tie-break in Australia, then a 12-12 break at Wimbledon. Makes me want to.”. crying is so stupid. »

The thorn of the Davis Cup

This cerebral reputation also applies to the release, and that hasn’t always helped its popularity, either. Simon doesn’t have a flashy backhand to pull out of the bag, a rhino forehand to brag about, or an athletic bulge to swoon over the crowd. His thing is the game of chess, endless discounts, a long-term strategy to drive the guy in front crazy: “It’s his signature, but it’s a little more complicated to appreciate than for other players because there are enough free points, spectacular.” shots”, summarizes Cédric Pioline.

Gilles Simon eliminated Steve Johnson in the second round at Roland-Garros.
Gilles Simon eliminated Steve Johnson in the second round at Roland-Garros. -Thomas SAMSON/AFP

Coming from the same generation that swore by just attacking tennis, Guy Forget never really joined. As a result, Simon has developed a form of lockdown in the Davis Cup (seven losses from his first seven matches), THE competition that allows French players to share everlasting emotions with the French public.

In between, we often tell ourselves that everything could have changed during the final in Serbia, in 2010, with two points everywhere on Sunday. Simon had never lost against Troicki, and who knows if he would not have become the idol of this generation in the event of a somewhat crazy victory in Belgrade. But Forgetting would have preferred Llodra, because of the result we know. This week, after the déglingos match against Carreño, several foreign teammates were surprised in the press room: “But since when has Simón been loved like this in France?”

“Guillou” himself could not believe it the next day in there. “Honestly, it’s by far the best environment I’ve ever had. In any case the most moving. Because you might think at some point that you’re a little bit sure of the atmosphere of the Davis Cup, in the sense that the guys are there from the beginning, they can send you a Marseillaise… But actually… It’s almost selfish to think of it that way but it’s almost even better. Because when we are in the Davis Cup, we play for France. There, they are for you. Those who did not want to see you did not come. »

“There is something when you look at this player anyway”

Touch is the correct word. Moving to see the lovers of “Guillou” come out of the carpentry, those of us who had been on camera for years without stopping. Paul, a fan since he was a child, was a bit distant, lacking convincing results. He was back in the pot in three seconds: “Against Johnson, I was watching the game on my phone, I saw myself in my 20s planning my schedule for him. It’s funny to see that people finally find it cool to support Gilles Simon. He wasn’t the favorite player of the four, people thought he had a bit of a boring game, maybe rightly so, but he was always interesting to watch. He’s not a smooth character, and then in this hyper cerebral game, there’s something when you look at this player anyway. To all those who hesitate to jump on Gilles Simon’s boat, I say hurry up, there is little time left! “.

Maybe one more round, maybe, against Marin Cilic, an opponent who loved to martyr himself in the old days. Pioline wants to believe it: “What is happening to him is great, he announced that it was his last Roland-Garros and he is doing great. It’s more demonstrative, more searching, we see him looking at the audience, shaking his fist, something we haven’t seen him do before… It’s a well-deserved last stop as far as Jo is concerned. I hope that he goes a little further in the tournament and that he gets the tribute he deserves.” Oh yeah, that’s another not-so-well-kept secret: the FFT has also planned a small ceremony for their “Guillou”, after his last match at Roland. We can go back as far as he wants, concerning us.

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