Well what an amazing match! Federer started in sublime fashion, moving Simon about and almost running away with the first set 6-1. Simon has regularly given Federer problems in the past and, in the next two sets we saw why, as Simon pressed and almost everything he went for worked, winning the next two sets 6-4 6-2.
So how do you feel when you’re up against someone at the top of their game? For Federer, his reaction was what you might expect of someone who has been at the top of the men’s game for the last decade – he lifted his game and in a set of outstanding tennis he leveled the match with a 6-2 set.
For Simon this was something of a body blow, he did little wrong and when he got to Federer’s drop shots Fed was there to put the next ball away. One of the things Federer does consistently is follow the drop shot into the net, despite it being taught and the obvious tactic, it surprises me how many of the top players stay back after playing a drop shot.
At one point in answer to a short Federer ground stroke Simon drove his forehand cross court, for what would in most cases have been a winner, only to see Federer take the ball off the bounce and pass a disconsolate Gilles down the line.
By the final set it seemed that Federer was almost into exhibition mode, playing a drop shot, following it in and then volleying a lob over the incoming Simon. In the end Federer ran out a 6-3 winner in the fifth and extended his record of reaching the quarter-finals or better of the last 36 grand slams.