Rafael Nadal is widely recognized as one of the strongest players ever in terms of grit and intensity on the tennis court. In the opinion of Gilles Simon, to believe that the 34-year-old Spaniard is just a great fighter would be a limitation for a player who has proved himself complete during his incredible career.
Despite being simply considered a clay specialist in his early years, the Majorcan won on all surfaces, equaling his eternal rival Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slams. The umpteenth victory at Roland Garros by Nadal has suddenly rekindled the debate related to the GOAT, if we consider that the world number 1 Novak Djokovic is only three points away from the two symbols of the modern era.
In a recent interview, former Top 10 Gilles Simon provided an interesting interpretation of the Big 3 approach. The Frenchman believes Federer cannot be judged any less 'warrior' than Nadal and Djokovic.
Simon on Federer and Nadal's attitude
Gilles Simon believes that every player can be associated with the term, but that the tunnel-visioned players are distinct from the more open-minded ones.
“In my opinion, the term 'warrior' here means competitor,” Simon said. “Because even though we all are, there is a ladder. For some, only victory is beautiful; for others, there is more than that. When Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic say: 'I would love to hold the record for Grand Slam titles, but if it isn't me it will be fine,' which one is more credible?” Simon asked.
Gilles Simon believes that Rafael Nadal making such a statement would be more credible than the other two doing the same; "For me it's Rafa," he said. "It (Rafael Nadal's fight) always seems to me to be more in terms of personal evolution.
So is he more of a 'warrior' than Roger? I'm not sure of it,” Simon said. “With Roger, it (anger) is less visible than the others,” Simon said. "And Rafa, is it because we see him banging himself on the thigh while shouting ‘vamos' that he would permanently have a killer mind?” Simon also suggested that Cilic’s characteristics make him the right person to idolize instead of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.
“Sorry, but I know Grand Slam winners who don't have the rage,” Simon added. “I remind you that Marin won the US Open (in 2014). He played two Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon 2017, Australian Open 2018). He has put us in Davis Cup several times. Why shouldn't he be an example to follow?"