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Return Winners: the 2018 Lyon final
Published May 24, 2020
Dominic Thiem and Gilles Simon squared off in the 2018 Lyon final.
Considered among the best clay-courters on the ATP tour, Dominic Thiem experienced a series of ups and downs on the surface leading up to the 2018 French Open. While there was the 500-level title in Brazil and a convincing victory over Rafael Nadal in Madrid, the young Austrian also suffered an opening loss at the Italian Open and a surprise defeat at the hands of budding world No. 63 Stefanos Tsitsipas in Barcelona.
After that loss in Rome, Thiem next turned his attention to Lyon, France, where he was the top seed. He breezed through his opening match, but was pushed to the limit in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Still, he managed to advance to his second final of the spring clay-court swing, where he’d face Gilles Simon, the former world No. 7—unseeded here—who battled through an upset-plagued bottom half of the draw.
Back in 2014, Thiem and Simon faced each other for the first time in Indian Wells, Calif., with the Austrian winning the match in straight sets. They played each other twice more that year, with Simon taking both of those. Over the years leading up to this final, however, Thiem had definitively turned the tide by winning their next five encounters, a run that included victories under every playing condition and surface.
In the first set, multiple unforced errors from Thiem played into the steadier Simon’s hands and the veteran Frenchman, playing in his 20th career final, was able to take the opener, 6-3. Simon was able to keep up the pressure in the second set and gained an early break. He had a couple of chances to get another break, but Thiem—playing more patiently—rallied to force the second into a tiebreak. With momentum on his side, the top seed rolled to send the match into a decider. Playing more confidently after escaping from the brink of defeat, Thiem raced through the final set to win it, 6-1, and clinch the championship, the 10th of his career.
The loss to Thiem marked only the second time Simon lost a championship match in France out of six finals in his home country.
Of his 10 career titles, this was the third that came after Thiem lost the first set in the final.
Thiem’s semifinal win was his 200th on the ATP Tour.