Gilles Simon emerged victorious (Picture; Getty Images)Gilles Simon advanced to the final of The Fever-Tree Championships on Saturday afternoon, outlasting young Russian in a hypnotic battle on Centre Court.
It’s perhaps not a match-up you’d recommend to the casual fan, with the pair metronomically trading blows, but there was a fascinating sense of tactical intrigue that accompanied the tie.
Simon is one of the best movers on the tour, certainly superior to his opponent, but Medvedev – who breathes out with every stroke in similar manner to a boxer who blows through their mouthguard with each punch – boasts his own brand of incisive hitting, especially off the backhand side.
It was the French veteran, however, who emerged victorious in the battle of the grinders to win 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-3 in two hours and 37 minutes.
The rallies were sometimes monotonous, other times spellbinding. The Queen’s crowd held their breath almost every point, exhaling nervously as one of the pair finally faltered.
One particularly gruelling rally, in the first set tiebreak, totalled 43 shots. Simon blinked first and the Russian went on to take the lead after an hour and five minutes.
Daniil Medvedev took the first set (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)A wayward volley from the 23-year-old, who was seen regularly icing his shoulder, allowed Simon to level and the Russian’s physical woes appeared to spread to his back in the third. Comically, Medvedev threw himself to the grass after being passed by his opponent at the net in the fourth game of the decider after clutching the problem area but was all smiles as he picked himself up.
Ultimately, however, it was the 34-year-old Simon who triumphed, reaching his first final in these parts.
He will meet either 37-year-old Spaniard Feliciano Lopez – who is playing doubles with Andy Murray this week – or 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime in Sunday’s final, after their own battle of the generations later on Saturday afternoon.
In Birmingham, Australia’s French Open champion Ash Barty can become world No. 1 on Sunday if she wins the Nature Valley Classic.
Barty is just two rankings points behind Naomi Osaka, who was beaten in the last-16 but will climb to the summit with victory over fellow finalist Julia Gorges.
Ash Barty has impressed in Birmingham (Picture: Getty Images for LTA)Paul Jubb, meanwhile, made a fine start in qualifying at Eastbourne, downing experienced Uzbek Denis Istomin 6-2 5-7 7-5 in the opening round.
Murray learnt his fate in the doubles draw and he faces a rematch against Colombian duo Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal – the top-seeded pair he beat with Lopez at Queen’s – but this time he will team up alongside Brazilian doubles specialist Marcelo Melo.
There are eight Brits in the main singles draws at the Nature Valley International, which takes place next week. Top-ranked male Kyle Edmund has a bye to the second round, while Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Jay Clarke take on Radu Albot, Jeremy Chardy and Leonardo Mayer respectively.
Roger Federer will fight for a 10th title in Halle (Picture: Getty Images)Johanna Konta will kick off against Donna Vekic, Katie Swan meets Zhang Shuai, Heather Watson takes on Alize Cornet, while Harriet Dart faces Anett Kontaveit.
In Halle, Roger Federer will take on David Goffin for the title on Sunday, after defeating Murray’s Wimbledon doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert in straight sets.
Goffin had earlier beaten Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who was one of the most in-form players on this surface in 2019, 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.
Should Federer beat the Beligian, he will lift the 102nd title of his career and his 10th in Halle.