A longtime rival of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has accused the tennis stars of “pranking” their rivals by having the ability to win grand slams with injuries. Gilles Simon praised the two Magnificent 22 champions for being a cut above the rest as he explained how they manage to be stronger than their opponents when they are held back physically.
Djokovic recently won a historic tenth Australian Open title while battling a hamstring injury, dropping just one set across all tournaments in a second-round tiebreaker. It allowed him to tie longtime rival Nadal in the men’s singles Grand Slam title for his 22nd, and he wasn’t the only one to lift a major trophy while injured.
En route to his 22nd Grand Slam title at last year’s French Open, Nadal played through a food injury using anesthetic injections to prevent himself from feeling pain – something he revealed after winning his 15th Roland Garros title. Both men have now been commended for their ability to outperform the rest of the field even through physical setbacks.
Former world number 6 Simon recently opened up about the realities of playing through injury during a Twitch stream to fellow pro Gael Monfils and revealed that he’s done the same, though not to the extent of the big three. “How many times have you seen me reach the third round or the last 16 in pain? Often,” the 38-year-old retiree admitted.
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“You’ve seen me on crutches in Australia, and Richard’s ankle was turned up [Gasquet]. I’m still in the third round.” Simon then discussed how players seemed to have some kind of a ceiling during injury, with it being the third or fourth round, while the likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer still expected to win the title.
“Third or fourth round, that was my level,” he continued. “So sometimes, even off, I got to my level. Novak, Rafa, Roger, their level is to win the Grand Slam. Sometimes, at 70 percent, you get the same result as when I was on the job.”
And the retired superstar recently admitted it came as a kick in the teeth for his rival, who failed to defeat the likes of Djokovic and Nadal even when hampered by injuries.
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Simon added, “When it’s Novak or Rafa, we think they’re kidding us because they’ve won grand slams. But winning grand slams is their level. They have such a margin on the guys behind it that they win outright. They’re stronger.”
Simon ended his 20-year football career at the end of last season at his home tournament, the Paris Masters, where he managed to reach some milestones before retiring. He defeated Andy Murray in his opening match to become the 24th man in the Open Era to achieve 300 victories on hard courts and went on to upset then world No. 11 Taylor Fritz in a three-hour thriller before losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime. In the round of 16, he will officially retire.
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