Since 2004, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and to some extension, Andy Murray, have been the players to beat in men's tennis. In the last 16 years, only six other players were able to win a Major crown, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic pushing each other to the limits, standing on 20, 19 and 17 titles respectively.
Only the players from the 'big 4' have claimed the year-end no. 1 honor in this period, leaving nothing to their rivals and dominating the Masters 1000 series to stay miles in front of all the others. The experienced Frenchman had the opportunity to face Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray no less than 48 times, scoring six triumphs (he is among the players with at least one win against all of them) and suffering 42 defeats.
Writing a blog on the ATP site, Simon said it is natural to chase the biggest trophies, although it is almost impossible to get there with the 'big 4' around.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have won all 13 Majors since 2017, standing on a high level and making it impossible for their rivals to break the spell and go all the way, even though some weren't far recently.
Mentioning Rafael Nadal, Simon said it is almost impossible to think about Roland Garros title with him around, praising the Spaniard and his incredible record at clay Major.
Making a debut in Paris in 2005 (he had to skip Roland Garros in 2003 and 2004 due to injuries), Nadal went all the way to lift the first Major title just a couple of days after turning 19, starting his Parisian reign that still stands, 15 years later.
In the previous decade and a half, Nadal has become a synonym for Roland Garros, claiming 12 titles and suffering losses only against Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic. In the past two seasons, Dominic Thiem was Nadal's rival in the title match and the Spaniard was too strong on both occasions, keeping the Austrian away from the crown and adding more fuel to his incredible record at Roland Garros.
Gilles Simon scored one win over Rafa in that epic Madrid Masters semi-final in 2008 on an indoor hard court, prevailing after almost three and a half hours before losing to Andy Murray. In Rome 2014, Simon stayed in touch with a mighty opponent before Rafa shifted into a higher gear in set number three to cross the finish line.
"The problem is, when you're a tennis player, you want to win big tournaments. However, with Rafael Nadal competing, for example, it's hard to win Roland Garros."