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Even if Novak Djokovic wins 25 Slams, people will still prefer Roger Federer: Gilles Simon

  • Gilles Simon believes Novak Djokovic will always be less popular than Roger Federer despite his phenomenal records.
  • Novak Djokovic has been under fire of late because of the spate of positive COVID-19 cases at the Adria Tour.
ANALYST
News
Modified 25 Jun 2020, 16:05 IST
Roger Federer
Roger Federer

During a recent interview with Tennis Break News, 14-time ATP Tour singles titlist Gilles Simon defended Novak Djokovic against the bevvy of criticism he is facing for his ill-fated Adria Tour. At the same time, Simon also offered his perspective on why the Serb is less popular than a certain Roger Federer.

exhibition tournament comprising a series of matches in four Balkan nations, Novak Djokovic - along with Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki - tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the cancellation of the event.

In this respect, Gilles Simon said that it was unfair to blame Novak Djokovic alone for the disaster. The Frenchman said the tournament was designed for a noble cause, and that Djokovic was facing the heat because of vested interests at play.

"There are a bunch of people who are very happy to weaken Djokovic because it takes up space," Simon said. "They will accuse Djokovic by saying that it is entirely his fault and that it will be better organised on their side. Because they don't want this thing to affect their tournament. It is not trivial, it does not happen by chance."

Gilles Simon talks about the difference in popularity of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (left) beat Roger Federer in the 2020 Australian Open semifinals.
Novak Djokovic (left) beat Roger Federer in the 2020 Australian Open semifinals.

Gilles Simon then proceeded to offer his take on why Novak Djokovic is less popular than Roger Federer even though the Serb has been the more dominant player at Grand Slams in recent times.

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At the Australian Open earlier this year, Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for the second time in the last three Majors. The Serb then proceeded to beat Dominic Thiem in a five-set final to win a record-extending eighth Australian Open title.

Two years ago, at the same tournament, Roger Federer won his 20th and most recent Grand Slam title to open up an eight-Slam lead over Novak Djokovic. But with the Serb now standing at 17, that gap has whittled down to just three - and many believe he will overtake Roger Federer soon.

However, Novak Djokovic doesn't receive nearly as much crowd support as the Swiss despite his phenomenal on-court achievements. In this respect, Gilles Simon said that Roger Federer holds a special place in the tennis consciousness which is unlikely to be diminished no matter what the records end up saying.

"You just have to accept that Roger is not only Roger in tennis but in the whole world," Simon said. "He's the most loved sportsman, you can't fight (it)."

Praising Novak Djokovic for his ability to play his best tennis in front of a partisan crowd, like he did at Wimbledon 2019, Gilles Simon said that the Serb is at his 'unbeatable' best when the tide is against him. But according to the Frenchman that won't make a dent in the popular choice of the people, because of all that Roger Federer has done for tennis over the years.

"Even if Djokovic was 22, 25, 36 Grand Slams, he can say that he was the strongest .. but people will still prefer Roger. Novak, when he forgets that he is less loved and says to himself, like at Wimbledon last year 'ok you are all against me, well you are all going to die, I am going to **** him", well he is unbeatable, you see it in his eyes." 

Simon concluded by saying that Novak Djokovic is not the same player when he 'wants to look cool', as his determination and mental strength wane in that scenario.

"When he wants to look cool, he doesn't play as well and he isn't as strong because he doesn't have the same determination. And I love these moments when he forgets himself and he seems to say "Ok, people love you more than me but you know what? I'm going to beat you anyway.”
Published 25 Jun 2020, 16:05 IST
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