Gilles Simon believes Roger Federer's style of play and perfect attitude on the court, which have made him the most popular tennis player in the world, have also cultivated unrealistic expectations among the youngsters learning the ropes of the sport.
Simon was speaking with the Le Parisien website, to promote his new book titled ‘This Sport that Makes You Crazy’. The book has a chapter called “The Federer Myth", which has generated plenty of buzz in the tennis fraternity lately.
The Frenchman spoke about how Roger Federer's success on and off the court has made coaches and parents want their kids to emulate the 20-time Grand Slam champion. However, the 35-year-old feels that has not had a favorable impact on the younger generation of players in France.
"I have nothing against Roger Federer personally, but against the image we have of him," Simon said. "For decades, it has been believed that only Federers should be trained. And he, with his style of play, his way of going forward, the confidence he exudes, came to validate these choices. He made us lose 20 years!"
"In France, everyone wants Roger Federer: parents, coaches… We don't realize that Rafael Nadal Nadal has won so many Grand Slams by doing something quite different. That's why it would help if Roger Federer's records fell because we'd finally have to see the others," the Frenchman added.
Gilles Simon on why Marin Cilic was able to win a Slam in the era of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic, but French players weren't
Gilles Simon also spoke about the singles Slam drought among French male players since Yannick Noah's win at the 1983 French Open. Simon cited the success of Croatian Marin Cilic, who won the 2014 US Open, to explain how the French players lack the mindset required to win Majors.
The 35-year-old believes the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are no less talented than Cilic. The reason why they haven't succeeded, according to Simon, is that they are not strong enough mentally.
"Despite the Big 3 (Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer) , Marin Cilic won a Grand Slam and made two finals. Why? It's not about his forehand, his game and even less his physique. But in his mind, he's stronger than us. Four levels above," Simon said.
"We (French players) beat many times but when we got to a little more important matches like in Davis Cup, he beat us every time. Was Jo less strong? No. But he didn't win. And so we are going to talk about the mind again. There it is, it's cultural, French athletes are not mentally tough!" he added.Published 27 Oct 2020, 22:47 IST