The tantalizing prospect of a Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal semifinal at the Sony Ericsson Open was given a leg up by Gilles Simon. This afternoon, the Frenchman retired down 0-3 giving Federer a virtual walkover into the next round.
Simon produced three successive errors to hand Federer triple break point in the opening game. Then, with a forehand winner, Federer took the game.
After Federer had no problem on his service game, at double break point, Simon dumped a volley into the net. Consequently, Federer had another break and a 3-0 lead.
During the change over, Simon consulted the trainer. Following a brief discussion, Simon shook hands with Federer conceding the match.
The Frenchman was forced to retire due to a stiff neck. Simon explained that “ in the morning’s warm-up, I felt it. It’s a pain I have sometimes. I had it in Rotterdam one month ago. I couldn’t play either. . . sometimes I just wake up like that and cannot turn my head very much. . . I tried everything, anti-inflammatory [medications], hot cream. . . After the second forehand I tried to hit very hard; I felt [pain] very hard also. I knew I had no chance today”.
Simon stated that it’s a problem which dates back at least six or seven years. In fact, the first time it presented itself on tour was at a tournament in Madrid. Simon withdrew from the qualifying rounds.
Simon cited that the issue was not a consequence of the grueling fourth round match against Janko Tipsarevic. He was disappointed particularly having battled a knee injury last year which caused him to miss part of the season.
Moreover, Simon had a 2-1 record versus Federer coming into today. In fact, Simon pushed Federer to a fifth set at this year’s Australian Open after being behind two sets to love.
Considering their previous encounters, when Federer was asked “nice way to into the semis”. Federer responded “No, no. It’s not a whole lot fun honestly because you see the guy being booed off the court which he clearly doesn’t deserve. . . I think we played only fifteen points, so it’s not great”.
Federer continued by saying “we’ve played some funny matches against each other. The five setter this year. . . The second time around in Shanghai I came off a back injury and I couldn’t really play properly as well. The first time in Toronto which was basically a normal match. . . I don’t know what to say. I’m just happy to be in the semis at this point”.
Nadal and Federer have not played on U.S. soil since the ATP Masters in Miami in 2005, the first of two titles for Federer at this venue. Thus, the two meeting in the semifinals would be special.
On the topic Federer stated “If I play Rafa, we have many memories from playing amazing matches against each other. It’s not even that unusual that we play each other in the semis because it happened at the World Tour finals back in Shanghai”.
Also Federer iterated “I’m happy that I’m already a step further [than last year]. . . I would love to play Rafa clearly. I think it would be electric out there tomorrow night”.
Tomas Berdych and Nadal clash tonight for the a place in the semifinals.