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France's Simon a wreck after Monfils marathon

Gilles Simon of France celebrates defeating compatriot Gael Monfils in their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in
Gilles Simon of France celebrates defeating compatriot Gael Monfils in their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in

By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Gilles Simon is going to give it his best shot but accepts that he will probably not beat Andy Murray at the Australian Open on Monday after wrecking his body in a four-hour, 43-minute marathon against Gael Monfils.

The extraordinary third round encounter between the French defensive baseliners on Hisense Arena on Saturday night was studded with lengthy rallies, including one incredible 71-shot exchange.

Simon won that rally and went on to win the match 6-4 6-4 4-6 1-6 8-6 well after midnight local time but it took a terrible toll on his body and he spent much of the rest of the night getting treatment.

"I was in bad shape," the 14th seed told reporters on Sunday.

"I felt I played the end of the match like in a dream, like I was not even on the court. I was just hitting the ball, trying to run, trying to catch it, and not thinking anymore.

"I was too tired to be happy or upset or thinking or - I think at the end of the match I just completely lost control.

"It was too painful everywhere. I don't even know where - I had a cramp here, cramp here, even not possible to cramp," he added, pointing to his leg and chin.

Simon's withdrawal from the Sydney International warm up event because of a neck injury has left him short of match practice and the 28-year-old said he would have to make it a quick win if he was going to upset third seed Murray.

"I don't have to explain to you how strong he is," the Frenchman said. "Of course it will be really, really difficult, but at the moment I just happy that I won the last one, and I will just try to go and take my chance.

"I don't have a lot of chance to win this one, but this is my job to go on the court and to do the maximum to bother him and to give him a hard time.

"It's difficult to win 6-2 6-3 6-2 against Andy. I'm not sure if we play longer than that that I will be able to make it to the end."

Simon won his first match against Murray in 2007 but has lost all nine since as the U.S. Open champion has steadily climbed up the rankings to his current standing of third in the world.

"I remember when he was still in the first years," Simon said. "He was an awesome player already, but physically sometimes he was cramping. Yeah, he could be tired.

"It's a long time since I saw him tired on the court. I know he's working hard outside the court to be ready. That's part of our job.

"So for sure he will have the advantage tomorrow for this, but I just want to focus on my game, and then what I can do tomorrow to try to disturb him a little bit."

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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