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November 5, 2015

Gilles Simon

Paris, France

6‑3, 7‑5

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Do you remember having played a set with nine breaks in 12 games? That was an incredible set.
GILLES SIMON: I did that against Benoit in Monte‑Carlo this year. I'm used to it. It's a bit strange. Every time my feeling is I make a great effort to come back into the match, and in the end, I'm not winning the set. I broke him back every time.
Novak didn't really disturb me with his serve. It's rather his returns and also his quality as a baseline player. The long rallies were very tough, and there were many breaks every time we played. I remember each set in Wimbledon, there were breaks. I lost in three sets, but it was the same type of game.

Q. Do you have regrets or are there things you should have done better on your own serve games?
GILLES SIMON: No, I was just not good enough. I made a great effort to break him. I was running a lot. And when I was serving, whatever the type of serve I was trying, even if I mixed it up, I always got a return very close to the baseline.
I was defensive from the beginning of the rally. I was not able to step into the court. You know, when Novak plays steady on his baseline, he never goes backwards. That makes a difference. Little by little, I get tired. I make more efforts. So at the end I'm a lot more out of breath than he is.
So I make a lot of efforts to break him. When I start serving, sometimes I miss a serve and he controls the game.

Q. You know him very well. Is there anything he does better than the previous years? Did he improve on something specific this year?
GILLES SIMON: In this match I didn't see anything special, but he does everything even more consistently and more precisely. But there is nothing new. He was already returning very well before. He always tries to make you move right and left. He stays on his baseline, he never steps back, and he makes no mistakes, never.
After 50 perfect returns, you can expect maybe he will miss just one. Well, not. He doesn't. This is what is stressing more than his game by itself.
Well, I didn't feel really bad against him. I didn't feel good, either. But I know that usually it takes three, four shots for me to be able to win the point, so I was not stressed. What happens with him is that he does things quietly. I can feel it's coming, and this is stressing.

Q. We are at the end of the season. He almost won everything. Apparently there is no tiredness. He isn't frustrated, doesn't give anything away. He has the same motivation on each point.
GILLES SIMON: Well, I think he wants this tournament. He plays less than others. It's part of what he's creating. He doesn't want to give an easy victory to anyone. When he comes to a tournament, it's only because he feels he can be 100% and that it's going to be very difficult to beat him. He never wants to give an easy win to anyone.
His scheduling was perfect this season. He only played two tournaments in a row once in the year, and every time when he arrives, he's ready. This explains why he is still fresh at the end of the year when all the other players need to play a bit more than he does.

Q. You said Novak never steps back. How difficult is it to do that? Is it something technical, or is it just the capacity of anticipating?
GILLES SIMON: Both. It's a combination of both. But before anything else, I believe it is technical. Sometimes I'm far behind. Sometimes, you know, I hit a good shot.
It's going to seem stupid, but I need to try to step forward. This is what I have been trying for the whole match, trying to step forward, and I just can't do it.
Lately I was feeling better at the net, and I only went three times at the net in this match, because the only time when I can be aggressive is on his second serve. That's the only time. Otherwise I only have very deep shots to play. Even when he is defensive, he still plays long and deep. I can't move forward. I just can't control the rally.
I'm submitted to it. As I said, I don't feel that bad because I know I can sustain for a long time. I'm part of those players that are able to run and defend a long time. But as I said before, the difference is that it is always the same one running, the same one being defensive. He's creating the stress.

Q. During that match, did you feel that at certain times he felt himself endangered or was he in control all the time?
GILLES SIMON: I feel sometimes he gets annoyed, because I am able sometimes to insist on something he doesn't do too well. Like, for example, he needs to take a long time before he can play his winner, because every time I send the ball back. Sometimes he makes mistakes on his forehand, for example. But the rest of the time he's in control because he feels secure on my serve.
He just says even if it's a fight from the baseline, I will win it, because I'm ahead in the score. He says, you know, never mind if I have to play all the rallies from the baseline, I know I'm going to win. That's what he thinks.

Q. At the end of the match he had a short point and he just played it in very softly. Were you upset because he did that? Because it was a very easy shot?
GILLES SIMON: No, I believe he just missed his shot. It was a big rally. We run, both of us, all over the place. He felt I was going to go far away, and I saw that coming. I just ran, and I think he just made a bad choice. That's all.

Q. How do you assess this season?
GILLES SIMON: There were interesting things. I believe this season has been interesting in the perspective of next year. First, I had a whole year without injuries. So I was able to find a better rhythm, a lot more than the previous year.
After Wimbledon I had played already as many matches as the year before. But after that, it was a bit more difficult physically, in particular. But there were good things. I'm improving my approach of the major events. In Davis Cup, I feel much more at ease, and I went to a quarterfinal in a Grand Slam.
So there were quite a number of good things. Today when I come out of a match like this against Novak, I am happy because physically I feel good, and I'm no longer afraid of playing him. I have played him too often now. I just step on the court and start playing immediately, and there is a big improvement there.
But game‑wise, he's better than I am. I believe this winter I will do things a bit differently. I think I will have room for improvement, a lot. I'm not only talking about the match today, but I need to improve my serve games. It's been a long time I have been returning well, one of the best returners. If you look at the statistics of my returns on first serve, second serve, are good. As to the serve games won, then it's not very good.
Some other players that don't serve better than I do have better results than I have statistically on their serve games, so this will be my goal for this winter. If you approach the game properly, like Nishikori, if he has 83% of serve games won, it's an incredible statistics, given his height and his power he's able to play those games like Ferrer.
I have very bad results in comparison with them. So if they are able to do it without hitting a 220 kilometers per hour every serve, I should be able to do that. If I want to improve, I have to improve that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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