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Exhausted Simon doubts chances against Murray

Frenchman battles crippling cramps in epic win over compatriot Monfils

Gulf News

Melbourne: Gilles Simon admitted he may not go the distance against Andy Murray after his epic Australian Open win over Gael Monfils left him struggling to walk and needing hours of treatment.

Simon overcame severe cramps to post a 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6 victory against his fellow Frenchman, finishing after midnight in 4hr 43min, to book a fourth-round berth against the Olympic and US Open champion.

Afterwards, the world No 16 required nearly four hours of medical treatment and was in such bad shape that he was unable to attend the customary post-match media interviews.

Deprived of sleep and with muscles still aching, Simon spoke to reporters on Sunday and gave himself virtually no chance of eliminating Murray, the world No 4.

“I don’t have a lot of chance to win this one,” he said. “But this is my job to go on the court and do the maximum to bother him, to give him a hard time. The thing is, it’s difficult to win 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 against Andy. I’m not sure, if we play longer, that I will be able to make it to the end.”

In a slugfest which featured a 71-shot rally, Simon started cramping towards the end of the second set and he admitted he threw away the third and fourth sets to conserve energy for the fifth.

“I’m never cramping on the court, normally,” Simon said. “So it was a very strange feeling for me. I felt at the end of the second set that it will be very hard to continue to play.

“I decided to rest a little bit in the third and fourth sets and try to give everything in the fifth. I played the end of the match like I was in a dream, like I was not even on the court.

“I was just hitting the ball, trying to run, trying to catch it, and just not thinking any more.”

The match took on a surreal quality as Simon served at nearly half-pace due to pain in his arm, and he said he felt pain from head to toe when he finally fell over the finish line after midnight.

“I was too tired to be happy or upset or thinking,” he said. “At the end of the match, I just completely lost control. I slept at 5am, so I think I had three or four hours of treatment. There was no miracle so I had a massage, stretching. All parts of the body were painful.”

Pointing to his leg and chin, Simon added: “I had a cramp here, a cramp here, where it’s not even possible to cramp.”

Simon was one of four Frenchmen to reach the fourth round. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, the seventh and ninth seeds, will clash on Monday while Jeremy Chardy will face Italy’s 22nd seed Andreas Seppi.