In the last of the quarterfinals at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, Gilles Simon faced Jack Sock who was looking to enter the world's top 20 for the very first time. Although he managed to take the first set, he narrowly missed out with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) loss to the Frenchman. Simon will face Andy Murray in the semifinals.
Confident Sock takes opening set
In the opening few points, the tone of the match had been set. Sock's ever reliable forehand seemed to be the choice of shot. With the score at deuce, the American fired a forehand winner to bring up the first break point. Simon denied Sock and two points later, the Frenchman had the chance to close out the game but instead, Sock hit a dropshot to set up a second break point.
The 24-year-old was putting Simon under immense pressure, firing a succession of forehands. However, Simon showed great defence until Sock came in and finished off the rally and the game with an overhead smash to get the match underway by breaking. The Amerian comfortably held serve and consolidated for 0-2. Sock fired a big serve towards Simon as he held for 1-3 before attacking Simon's second serve to bring up triple break points in the next game.
The world number 32 hit a backhand winner to save one of the breaks but the very same shot would let him down a point later as Sock went further ahead in the set, 1-4. Having been outplayed for much of the set, the momentum began to shift the way of Simon. He went love-40 up on Sock before breaking for 2-4. Simon hit a forehand winner, won the game and cut the deficit to one game after going on to win three straight games.
The former world number six was often finding himself having to defend against the Sock forehand and this time, he forced the error to bring up more break points. A big serve from the new American number one helped save the break point as he rifled yet another forehand winner to go within a game of the set. A big first serve from Sock helped him gain the first set, 4-6.
Simon battles back to win the second set
Simon started the second set confidently. Two attempted dropshots and two forehand errors brought the game to deuce before Sock went on to eventually hold. Two lob winners from Simon at 2-1 gave him double break point. The American produced an unforced error which allowed Simon to get the sets first break at 3-1. Having started a little shaky, Sock began to find his feet in this set and following an unforced error from the Frenchman, Sock had two chances to break. Despite having a break point saved, Sock responded well and broke back before hitting his trademark winner to draw level at 3-3.
The momentum began to shift once more in this match and following two forehand winners, it gave Sock a break point. Which he took after a sluggish Simon hit an unforced error. The Frenchman fought back and immediately broke in the next game to stay alive and once again, the momentum swung the way of Simon. He made sure to take advantage of the momentum and at 5-4, three set points came his way. In the next game, Simon showed solid defence to force the error from Sock as he drew level at one set apiece, 6-4.
Simon wins the match on tiebreaker
Both players looked confident throughout the deciding set and with four games gone, the scores were tied at 2-2. The fifth game would bring the set to life. Being 0-30 down, Simon responded and began to hit timely first serves to hold and go in front at 3-2. With the score at 4-3 in favour of Simon, Sock began to get tight in the game which led to him facing a break point after hitting an unforced error. A big first serve followed by a powerful forehand denied the Frenchman with Sock going on to hold as he showed signs of cracking under pressure.
With the American behind in the set, he showed impressive character to weather the storm and hold to set up a nervous match defining tiebreaker. The American from the off got the mini break and stayed in front at 4-2. Simon got back into the breaker and levelled at four games all but Sock got the mini break once more and would have to chances to serve out the match. But Sock began cracking under pressure and Simon took advantage, winning three big points and booking his spot in the semifinal to deny Sock the chance of breaking into the top 20.