• Simon, Monfils clash in all-French semifinal

    2/4/12 12:30 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Simon, Monfils clash in all-French semifinal An all-French semifinal showdown is on Saturday's schedule in Montpellier. Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils are gunning for a spot in the title match.

    Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils will be squaring off for the third time in their careers when they do battle in the semifinals of the Open Sud de France on Saturday.

    Simon has won both of their previous meetings, although one match ended in retirement with Monfils trailing 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in the fourth round of the 2009 Australian Open. They faced each other last summer on the clay courts of Hamburg, where Simon prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.

    Monfils said on Friday that his opponent is the favorite based on their head-to-head history, but that cannot be the case. A huge edge in current form goes to Monfils, who opened his 2012 campaign with a runner-up finish in Doha that included a win over Rafael Nadal. So far this week the No. 3 seed has eased past Michael Russell and Jarkko Nieminen, both by 6-3, 6-3 decisions.

    Simon reached the Brisbane semifinals last month but was handled without much trouble by Alexandr Dolgopolov. Like Monfils, Simon also lost early at the Australian Open. The world No. 12 opened in Montpellier with a routine win over Flavio Cipolla but he needed two hours and 52 minutes to get past countryman Guillaume Rufin 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-2 on Friday.

    Monfils spent almost exactly two fewer hours on court in his quarterfinal win over Nieminen. The world No. 13 is well-rested and playing with more confidence, so look for him to oust Simon in two tight sets.

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