French veteran Gilles Simon, 36, took a voluntary break from competition the last six weeks or so.
He vowed to return when he’d recovered his will to complete and positive attitude, after all these months in the restrictive tennis bubble.
Simon returned this week in Cagliari, Italy at a new, pop-up ATP 250 event there.
And he won his first match back, coming back to defeat Stefano Travalia 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Before his sabbatical, Simon had lost to countryman Jérémy Chardy in the second round of the pre-Australian Open tuneup. He then took just … four games in a first-round loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the main event.
And then, in Montpellier, he lost in the first round to Dennis Novak.
Simon told L’Équipe that he just about lost it on the umpire in that Montpellier match, and realized he’d sort of hit the wall.
Simon doesn’t hold back in an interview with Franck Ramella.
Here are a few highlights.
(We’ve sprinkled in a few vintage shots of young and carefree Simon).
“Bubbles for the tournament, not the players”
“There are a lot of things that are annoying us. You have to distance yourself from all that, and that’s what I did when I went home – so I could manage to no longer foolishly lose energy trying to negotiate things that, at any rate, are non-negotiable.”
Simon said that navigating the bubbles – which really began with the US Open last year – has been easier for the younger players, who haven’t yet built a life outside tennis (i.e. have families).
“I’m against the bubbles, but that’s my opinion. I just told myself, ‘There will be bubbles; I’ll just plan my schedule accordingly. I’ll go to places where the weather is nice.’ I’ve stopped wanting to tell them, ‘Don’t make bubbles’ even if I know there’s no difference in positive cases between the Challenger players and the Tour players even if there are no bubbles at Challengers.”
Simon pointed out that originally, tournaments like Miami were mandatory. “But we managed to get that removed,” said Simon, who is a current member of the Player Council.
Simon “resigned that nothing will change”
He also believes that the bubbles are for the protection of the tournaments, and not the players. (He’s probably not wrong).
“I returned to the Council because the situation at the end of last year didn’t please me at all and I wanted to be there, discuss it. But I also got tired of that, of losing time and energy telling people that what they’re doing makes no sense, and then watch them do it anyway,” Simon said.
He said he’s distanced himself a little from all that.
“I’m resigned to the fact that nothing will change. And that decisions will be made the way they’ve always been made. I just give my advice so that the conditions for players improve as much as possible.”