Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic ‘not champions’ claims French star
Gael Monfils has claimed that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are more than just champions as he urged the tennis world to stop comparing players to the Big Three. The former world No 6 claimed that people forgot the three players were “legends”, also throwing Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka into their league.
With time officially ticking on the Big Three era, one of their old rivals has explained why Federer, Nadal and Djokovic aren’t champions. The Swiss star ended his career at last year’s Laver Cup while Nadal recently admitted that 2024 would likely be his final year on the tour as he announced an extended break for the next few months.
It leaves Djokovic as the only currently-active member of the group. And Monfils has given his take on the legacy of the Big Three as he explained why they were a level above other tennis players.
Discussing his generation of French tennis players – which includes Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon – Monfils told Game, Set and Talk: “Finally, we were on fire but we were still in the second week. We were still top 10. Last year, I was weak but I was still 15th in the world.”
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The 11-time title winner then went on to clarify why Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka would remain above himself and his fellow French stars. “We always want to compare the incomparable. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are not champions,” Monfils added.
“These guys are legends. People forget it. If we could achieve the same things as them, we would be legends too.” Monfils also looked to Nadal’s record at the French Open as he demonstrated how the tournament had been dominated by a handful of players over the last two decades – leaving the French players unable to make inroads at their home event.
The 36-year-old continued: “I always take the example of Roland‐Garros. Who has won it 14 times? Has this ever existed? Two other legends have only won it three times, once Roger and twice Novak. And we are slapped on the knuckles.
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“And we talk about these three players but for me, Murray and Wawrinka are also legends.” With the Big Three era drawing to a close, Monfils’ generation of French players is also fading out with Tsonga and Simon both retiring in 2022.
It means that France may have to wait for a home champion despite this year’s edition of Roland Garros being the most open in a long time with Nadal’s withdrawal. Monfils himself has been struggling with injuries and now sits at No 389 in the world. But Gasquet is flying the flag for their generation, ranked at No 44 after winning a title in Auckland this year.
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