Paris | Murray lets victory slip

For only the third time in 19 meetings, Gilles Simon beat Andy Murray in what was expected to be the Frenchman’s swan song having announced awhile back, that the Rolex Paris Masters would mark the end of his career as a tennis professional.

The 37-year-old from Nice, came back from a set down to record a 4-6 7-5 6-3 win and extend his career by at least another match in round two, where the 9th seeded American, Taylor Fritz, awaits.

To give Simon credit, he refused to lay down and fought all the way, much to the delight of the crowd who did everything to distract and intimidate Murray throughout the encounter.

And they most certainly succeeded and there can be no doubt that their raucous calls of support provided Simon with the additional energy to overcome the Brit for his 503rd win of his 30-year career.

Murray, who was broken when serving for the first set only to break back immediately to claim it, was rolling towards an expected victory in the second when the distractions started to affect him allowing Simon to storm back from 3-5 down and, while he again dropped his serve when serving for the match, this time the local wildcard held his own and then followed up with another break and level to thunderous acclaim from the partisan crowd.

The umpire was unable to control the crowd perhaps in the belief that if he tried, he could well antagonise them even more!

Simon, a former world No.6 with 14 titles to his credit, is making his 17th appearance at the Paris Masters 1000 event with his best result being a run to the semi-finals in 2012.

In contrast Murray has reached the final twice in consecutive years lifting the trophy on the second occasion in 2016, the year he went on to become world No.1 after also collecting the ATP Final trophy at the O2.

For the Scot, the defat brings his season to a close and time to reflect on what has been a good year and what could have been in Paris.

Two other players will be rueing their performances of the opening day for there can be no worse feeling than experiencing a loss when you are seeded to go deeper into the event. It must be even more painful when you are the first of the seeds to suffer that, and more upsetting on the first day of the tournament!

That was Marin Cilic’s fate as seeded 15, the Croatian crashed out to the unseeded Italian, Lorenzo Musetti 6-4 6-4, only to be joined a few hours later, by the much-fancied Italian, Jannik Sinner, the 11th seeded 21-year-old, who lost to the Swiss qualifier, Marc-Andrea Huesler. 6-2 6-3.

Other first round results

Frances Tiafoe (16) (USA) bt Lorenzo Sonego (Q) (ITA) 6-4 6-4
Mikael Ymer (Q) (SWE) bt Alexander Bublic (KAZ) 6-1 6-7(2) 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 6-3
Richard Gasquet (WC) (FRA) bt Alex Molcan (SVK) 6-3 6-1


Gilles Simon thanks the crowd for their support

Julian Finney/Getty Images




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