Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have the ability of the 'Big 4' if they can keep up their consistency, former world number six Gilles Simon believes.

Alcaraz won his first grand slam title at the US Open in 2022, becoming the youngest world number one in the history of the ATP rankings at 19 years, four months, and six days, before winning his first Wimbledon title in 2023.

Alcaraz beat Daniil Medvedev to win Indian Wells in March but has since struggled with an arm injury, with his last match before Roland Garros coming in the quarter-final of the Madrid Open on May 1.

He beat J.J. Wolf in straight sets on Sunday to progress to the second round of the French Open, where he will face Jesper De Jong.

Simon, speaking at the Roland-Garros eSeries by Renault tournament, believes in the Spaniard's ability, comparing him to some of the big names in the sport.

He said: "I think that Alcaraz has the level of the big 3 or big 4 that we've had because he really has a level that's very high.

"In other words, when his tennis is up and running, it's really hard to beat him. And I see him at the same level as [Rafael] Nadal, Novak [Djokovic], [Roger] Federer, even at their best, because he's got that level.

"On the other hand, he can't keep it up at the moment, every week, with the consistency that those players have had. But he's young, he's still very young, and he's going to keep winning, keep progressing, keep raising his game.

"Maybe he'll reach the level of those players. Last year, we saw him do very well at Roland Garros but ultimately lose due to cramp. But then he wins at Wimbledon, and you think that's it, he's reached that level [of the big 3].

"Yes, he was there over that period, not over ten months for the moment. And I've no doubt he'll be there, but it's going to be complicated."

Meanwhile, Sinner has enjoyed a strong start to 2024 saw him win his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open, following up with wins in Rotterdam and Miami.

The Italian also cruised through his opening round at Roland Garros with a straight-sets win over Christopher Eubanks and is set to face Richard Gasquet next on Monday.

"As far as I'm concerned, [Sinner's] at a slightly lower level than Alcaraz. But his average level is higher than that of Alcaraz. So that's where it's interesting," Simon added.

"So far, Jannik has been able to show consistency for over six months, from the end of last season to his injuries at the start of the clay-court season.

"He's been in the final of almost every tournament for six months, or a winner. His consistency is reminiscent of that of the Big 4.

"But what's interesting is that he lost his big match at Indian Wells, against Alcaraz, who suddenly regained his level and overtook him. So that's how I see it."

Novak Djokovic remains capable of enjoying a successful 2024 but has been declining for some time, believes former world number six Gilles Simon.

Djokovic won three grand slam singles titles last year to take his overall tally to 24, equalling Margaret Court's overall record among male and female players.

However, he has been far from his best in 2024, going out to eventual winner Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semi-finals and failing to capture a single ATP Tour title.

Djokovic was beaten by Tomas Machac in the last four at the Geneva Open last week and said on Monday he was "not expecting" to retain his French Open crown.

He begins his Roland-Garros campaign against Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Tuesday.

Speaking to Stats Perform at the Roland-Garros eSeries by Renault tournament, Simon feels Djokovic's downturn is only natural, given he turned 37 earlier this month.

Simon said: "You are in a very short media window and it is amazing how things change. Last year when he lost [the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz], I said that for me, he had one year left.

"It's more a question of age, there's a break around 37 or 38, when it gets tough. He was playing well last year, he won three grand slams, but I've seen him drop for a while now.

"For me, there were already signs on the court that he's dropping, but he was and still is completely capable of having a great 2024 season. 

"I have more doubts about the 2025 season, and I already had some last year, above all linked to the physical aspect."

Despite a difficult few months, Simon has no doubt that Djokovic – who is 14-5 for 2024 – can still put himself in contention for silverware. 

"Now he's in a slump, so everyone wants to bury him, but he's still capable of playing very well," he continued. 

"Last year it was [seen as] shameful to say that he was starting to drop, with people saying, 'You're talking rubbish, he's won three grand slams'.

"If I say now that he's playing well, they'll tell me he's finished, that he lost again in Geneva. Take it easy! We're not going to bury him. Nobody's going to bury Novak and he is still capable of great things.

"On the other hand, he's like everyone else. He's reaching an age where players like [Rafael] Nadal before him or like [Roger] Federer before him have dropped."

Novak Djokovic could still win three majors next year but Gilles Simon reminded tennis fans the world number one is not "eternal" as he heads towards the end of his career.

Djokovic triumphed in three of the four majors in 2023, with September's US Open success taking him level with Margaret Court's record 24 grand slam triumphs.

Defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final, Djokovic – aged 36 years and 111 days – became the oldest winner of the men's singles title at the US Open, as well as winning a trio of majors in a year for the fourth time.

That saw him surpass Roger Federer – who won three grand slams in a year on three occasions.

Simon, though, warned that Djokovic cannot play on forever.

He told Stats Perform: "I think he can win some [majors, but] I think he's getting to an age where it is going to become difficult.

"Most of the observers want to believe that a player is eternal but none are more eternal than the others.

"I think he can win a lot next year; will he win one, two or three? Next year he can do one more big year, but I also think that it will be his last."

 

The 36-year-old Djokovic acknowledged the retirement speculation after his US Open victory, asking how long he can continue.

Simon likened the twilight of Djokovic's career to fellow great Federer, whose playing days were curtailed by injury and fitness issues.

"At one point like every player there's going to be a break, that was the case for Roger Federer, remember when he won in Australia at the age of 37 playing incredible tennis," Simon added.

"At Wimbledon, he could have won because he lost against Novak Djokovic on match point. Time never had a grip on him, he had never been injured, he played really well, and then all of a sudden he disappears."

Another of tennis' 'Big Three', Rafael Nadal has not played since January 18 at the Australian Open – again owing to injury problems as years of toiling on the court takes its toll on even the best.

"We have Rafael Nadal who we hope to see again next year, who got us accustomed to more traditional injuries, longer injuries and with doubts," Simon continued.

"Once again he wins the Australian Open, he wins at Roland Garros even with his history with his foot, he again has a semi-final at Wimbledon.

"We say no about Novak because he is more careful, but we said the same about Federer, he expends less energy, he has a more fluid game and technique, he preserved himself from injury.

"I think next year will be very interesting because it’s a year where he can again win, where he still has an advantage [ahead of the rest] but we saw him lose against [Carlos] Alcaraz at Wimbledon.

"I thought he would have more advantage on grass because of the experience he has compared to others and his game works so well on grass – but he is beatable."

Age has shown no sign of slowing Djokovic down yet after he lifted the Paris Masters trophy for a seventh time on Sunday, defeating Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.

That victory marked his second hard-court ATP-1000 title of 2023, Djokovic managing multiple Masters titles in a single season for the ninth time in his career. Only Federer, having won multiple such events in a year six times in his time, can get near to that feat.

Yet Simon suggested 30 major triumphs may be out of Djokovic's reach due to the emergence of Alcaraz, who won at Wimbledon this year, and a gruelling schedule.

"He's so strong he knows how to prepare himself, but he can't do a series of tournaments," said the Frenchman, who won 14 career titles and reached a high of number six in the ATP rankings.

"If everything was going well he would be playing every week like when he was 25 years old, so that is what is missing.

"He looks after himself, ultra-professional and very strong. The US Open was important for him, I see him maybe doing one or two next year, but I am waiting to see for the next few years after that.

"I can't see him reaching 30 [majors] for example when Carlos Alcaraz could win two or three a year – I wish it for him but I don't see it like that."

The Rolex Paris Masters became the first Masters 1000 to broadcast its qualifying matches on Twitch, live on Rivenzi's channel.

Gilles Simon has warned that Carlos Alcaraz dominating men's tennis is no certainty.

Alcaraz has enjoyed a stunning rise to the top of the rankings over the past two seasons, with the 20-year-old winning two grand slam titles and 12 trophies overall.

The Spaniard has not won a title since triumphing at Wimbledon in July, however, and has reached only one final since then, losing to Novak Djokovic at the Western & Southern Open in August.

A shock defeat to Roman Safiullin at the Paris Masters this week has damaged Alcaraz's chances of pipping Djokovic to the year-end world number one, and Simon does not feel he is a shoo-in to be the standout player of the next generation.

"There are a lot of people who say: 'He's going to win 20 Grand Slams'," Simon told Stats Perform.

"It's long a career. People say he has got the freeway ahead of him. Yes, but we do not know what's behind him? 

"When [Roger Federer first arrived, we thought he was going to win a lot, and he did. Breaking [Pete] Sampras' record, we were sure of it.

"But the danger came from behind. First Rafa [Rafael Nadal] then Novak, then Andy [Murray]. And I think it will be the same for Carlos. The danger will come from behind."

Simon, who won 14 career titles and reached a high of number six in the ATP rankings, pointed to the likes of world number four Jannik Sinner and number three Daniil Medvedev, though the latter is seven years Alcaraz's senior.

"There are players aged 16, 17, who are playing extremely well and who may also have a similar career path. In the end, he still has Novak and hyper-stable, hyper-strong players like Daniil on hard court or other players on clay who can really cause him problems," Simon continued.

"Sinner and so on, but he may also have two or three guys behind him who, in two or three years' time, we don't know who they are yet, but they'll be up there like him, and we'll be saying to ourselves: 'Ah well, he never had that period when he was supposedly going to win everything with no competition in front of him'.

"There is never no competition. The other players, even if they are not the calibre of Federer or Nadal, they are very strong. Daniil is very strong, very stable on hard court, so he can beat [Alcaraz].

"Carlos seems to have the upper hand. But no, Daniil finds a solution, comes up with something else and beats him. And that is why it's never a foregone conclusion, and why it's so interesting to follow. Otherwise, we would not even be watching the match."

The Rolex Paris Masters became the first Masters 1000 to broadcast its qualifying matches on Twitch, live on Rivenzi's channel.

Gilles Simon believes Andy Murray's inferior trophy haul means he cannot be grouped with tennis' 'Big Three' of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Murray has enjoyed a long and stellar career, reaching 11 major finals and claiming three grand slam titles, as well as spending 41 weeks ranked as the world number one.

But with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer boasting 23, 22 and 20 grand slam successes respectively, Simon feels Murray is not quite on their level.

"He's not part of the Big Three," Simon told Stats Perform at the Roland-Garros eSeries by BNP Paribas. 

"You don't have to compare him with the Big Three, because he played at the very same time and we have the result.

"Andy was a fantastic player, just under these three guys in terms of level. In the end, the gap is huge in terms of titles: 23, 22 and 20, compared to three, so he's not part of the Big Four.

"He played at the same time as everyone and he has three and they have 20 or more. That's how I see it."

Simon – who won three of his 19 meetings with Murray before retiring in 2022 – feels the Scot was unfortunate to have competed with the 'Big Three' and would have been remembered as one of the game's greats in another era.

"He could have won 17 slams without the Big Three," Simon explained. "What is hard for Andy is to compare him to other players from other generations, when other players maybe have more slams than he has.

"If he had played at that time, he could maybe have had 15 and been one of the greatest. You cannot compare him with the Big Three, we saw it already, we saw the results.

"Where I feel sad for Andy is that if you play in a different era, you have 10 [grand slam titles] and then if we take the all-time rankings, we go to [Pete] Sampras with 14 and you say maybe he's here.

"This is where I feel it's a bit of an injustice for him compared to his level, because he would be closer to something like this than to someone who has three slams. He would be much higher in the all-time rankings."

Novak Djokovic might have won the French Open, but Gilles Simon does not foresee too many more grand slam victories for the world number one.

Djokovic overcame Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 7-5 at Roland Garros on Sunday to claim his 23rd major title, taking him clear of Rafael Nadal (22).

The Serbian turned 36 last month, however, and speaking before the tournament, former world number six Simon suggested Djokovic must enjoy the major triumphs while they are here.

Simon pointed to the now-retired Roger Federer and Nadal, who will retire next year, as prime examples of top players being unable to retain their level beyond the age of 37.

"There's a lot less serenity and so he's into his own thing," said Simon, speaking to Stats Perform at the Roland-Garros eSeries by BNP Paribas.

"[Djokovic winning the French Open] will stop the GOAT, not the GOAT debate. In fact, it won't stop it, but at least we'll stop talking about this famous number of grand slam records and we'll understand that, in the end, there are those for whom the best player is the best on the court, but he's already the one who has the best stats.

"Of course he doesn't have the easy road in the sense that he has not ten years in front of him. In other words, he's [winning] two more grand slams, maximum. It's not easy, so he better win slams now.

"He does not have time. He's 36, he's struggling and it's easy to see why. Roger, 37 years old, nothing after that. Rafa, 36 last year [37 now], and nothing after that. Novak will be no exception to the rule.

"Rafa, the last grand slam he won (2022 French Open), it was very hard physically. Novak, he's won several grand slams with the adductor tear, elbow, abs, whatever. It's been a long time since they won a slam by rolling over everyone, as they did before."

Jannik Sinner and Marin Cilic were the two most notable first-round losers at the Paris Masters, where Taylor Fritz kept his slim ATP Finals hopes alive on Monday.

World number 12 Sinner, the 11th seed in the French capital this week, suffered a straight-sets loss to Marc-Andrea Huesler, as did 15th favourite Cilic against Lorenzo Musetti.

Ninth seed Fritz downed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 6-2, with Cameron Norrie and Frances Tiafoe also recording straight-sets victories against Miomir Kecmanovic and Lorenzo Sonego respectively.

Victory for Fritz kept the American in the hunt for qualifying for November's ATP Finals in Turin for the first time, needing to reach the final in Paris to overtake Felix Auger-Aliassime or Andrey Rublev.

"Right now I'm just focused on kind of playing myself into the tournament," said Fritz. "I feel like any time this year that I've won a couple of matches in a tournament, then I've done well.

"So I'll just try to focus on these early rounds. Turin is still in the picture, obviously, but there's not much else I really could have done.

"Felix has played really, really well, so he deserves it, but I am going to try to steal his spot this week for sure."

Home favourite Gilles Simon awaits Fritz in the second round at the ATP 1000 event after defeating Andy Murray 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Alexander Bublik and Mikael Ymer played out another three-set battle, with the former triumphing 6-1 6-7 (2-7) 6-4.

Richard Gasquet, Yoshihito Nishioka, Karen Khachanov, Maxime Cressy, Nikoloz Basilashvili and John Isner were the other first-round winners on the opening day in France.

Daniil Medvedev succumbed to second-round defeat against Stan Wawrinka at the Moselle Open on Thursday, while Hubert Hurkacz coasted past Dominic Thiem.

World number four Medvedev fell to a 6-4 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 loss against three-time major winner Wawrinka, who will next meet Mikael Ymer after his straight-sets win over home favourite Gregoire Barrere.

Second seed Hurkacz did not experience such struggles against Thiem as the Pole cruised to a 6-3 6-4 as he served 12 aces in a dominant performance in Metz.

Hurkacz will face Arthur Rinderknech in the next round after the Frenchman battled to a 7-6 (13-11) 6-3 triumph over fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Alexander Bublik, the seventh favourite in France, was also made to work for his progress to the quarter-finals, downing Emil Ruusuvuori 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-3.

Fourth seed Holger Rune awaits Bublik after Benjamin Bonzi retired due to injury when 6-4 4-1 down against the Dane.

Lorenzo Sonego coasted through his second-round clash to defeat Gilles Simon 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to tee up a last-eight clash with Sebastian Korda.

David Goffin fell to a first-round exit at the Moselle Open in Metz on Tuesday, as Nikoloz Basilashvili received a reprieve courtesy of Zizou Bergs' retirement.

Goffin, who won the event in 2014, fell to a 6-3 6-3 defeat to three-time champion Gilles Simon, who is set to retire at the end of the 2022 campaign.

Simon needed 93 minutes to wrap up his victory over the four-time grand slam quarter-finalist, teeing up a round-of-16 meeting with Italy's Lorenzo Sonego. 

"We've known each other for a very long time and I’m always happy to play against [Goffin] one more time before the end," Simon said after the win. 

"It was really perfect from the start until the end and that's how I won this one."

Elsewhere, Basilashvili was a set down in his meeting with Bergs when the Belgian qualifier was forced to retire through injury, allowing the fifth seed to progress to a meeting with Arthur Rinderknech.

Rinderknech downed Spain's Jaume Munar in three sets to reach the next round, while Emil Ruusuvuori comfortably saw off Jiri Lehecka 6-4 6-4.

Jenson Brooksby enhanced his growing reputation and set up showdown with Diego Schwartzman in the European Open semi-finals.

The 20-year-old American, who took a set off Novak Djokovic and rattled the world number one at the US Open, is shaping up as potentially his country's biggest hope for the future in the men's game.

Californian Brooksby crushed Spain's world number 44 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 6-0, and second seed Schwartzman awaits after the Argentinian took down another 20-year-old American, Brandon Nakashima, scoring a 6-4 6-2 quarter-final win.

Schwartzman is the man who ended Andy Murray's hopes at the tournament in Antwerp.

Brooksby, who had to win two qualifying matches to reach the main draw, said: "Tomorrow will be a great match. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll get some rest tonight and get ready to battle again tomorrow."

The other semi-final will see Italian top seed Jannik Sinner take on South African seventh seed Lloyd Harris following their respective straight-sets wins over Arthur Rinderknech and Marton Fucsovics.


There will be an all-Russian semi-final at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, after Aslan Karatsev and Karen Khachanov won through to the final four.

Second seed Karatsev sank the hopes of Frenchman Gilles Simon, breaking serve five times on the way to a 6-4 6-3 win, while third-seeded Khachanov edged out Australian John Millman. A 7-5 7-6 (7-4) grind featured 19 aces by Khachanov, the 2018 Kremlin Cup champion, who saved four set points in the second set.

Marin Cilic thrashed Pedro Martinez 6-1 6-2 to set up a tussle with Ricardas Berankis, the Lithuanian ending Adrian Mannarino's run with a 6-2 7-6 (7-1) success. Frenchman Mannarino had stunned Russian top seed Andrey Rublev in the previous round.

Andy Murray battled through to the second round of the Moselle Open with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory over sixth seed Ugo Humbert on Tuesday.

Murray chose to play in the event as a wildcard to improve his world ranking and avoid tougher first-round encounters, such as facing Stefanos Tsitsipas at the U.S. Open, and he recovered from going behind in the opening set to ease through his first-round tie.

Humbert, who is ranked 26th in the world, came into the clash 87 places ahead of the two-time Wimbledon winner but failed to make home advantage count as the Scot dispatched of him in just over two hours.

Karen Khachanov, who is the seventh seed in Metz, avoided a similar first-set scare to overcome Alexandre Muller 4-6 6-1 6-3, while Marcos Giron edged past Arthur Rinderknech 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

That win sets up a second-round tie with fourth seed Alex de Minaur, with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina sneaking past Gilles Simon 4-6 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 in Tuesday's other match.

Frenchman Benoit Paire crashed out of the Astana Open to world number 97 Egor Gerasimov as he lost 7-5 6-4.

John Millman, the fifth seed, did not endure similar struggles as he recovered from losing the first set to ease past Dmitry Popko 3-6 6-1 6-4.

Meanwhile, Ilya Ivashka coasted past Elias Ymer 6-2 6-4 in just over 90 minutes to secure his second-round berth in the Czech Republic.

Fifth seed Casper Ruud secured his place in the last 16 of the Mallorca Championships with a straight sets win over Gilles Simon on Monday.

The 22-year-old claimed a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory to set up a meeting with Tennys Sandgren in the next round.

Following Ruud onto Centre Court, the American beat Spain's Jaume Munar 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 in just over two hours.

Sixth seed Karen Khachanov is also safely through, although he surrendered a set in beating French qualifier Lucas Pouille 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-4.

But Dusan Lajovic, seeded eighth, was not quite as fortunate.

Lajovic, ranked 41st in the world, was beaten 6-4 7-6 (7-2) by Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein (ranked 256).

Feliciano Lopez came out on top of battle of Spaniards in the round of 32, beating Nicola Kuhn 6-1 7-6 (7-4).

Their compatriot Roberto Carballes Baena is in with a chance of joining them on Tuesday after seeing his clash with Sam Querrey paused due to light with both players having taken a set.

Elsewhere, Corentin Moutet beat Lloyd Harris to set up a meeting with top seed Daniil Medvedev, while Jiri Vesely and Stefano Travaglia also progressed.

Monday's other scheduled ATP event in Eastbourne saw play cancelled due to rain, with the scheduled match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Egor Gerasimov pushed back as a result.

It proved to be a tough day for home players at the Lyon Open as Roger Federer found out who he will face first in the main draw in Geneva.

All four Frenchmen in action on Monday were knocked out in Lyon, including 2018 finalist Gilles Simon.

Aljaz Bedene knocked out the world number 68 in straight sets, two breaks of serve in each enough to secure a 6-2 6-3 triumph after one hour and 13 minutes on court.

Sebastian Korda overcame both Pierre-Hugues Herbert and the rain to progress to the second round, a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 triumph wrapped up quickly following a delay.

Having been 5-4 ahead in the second set when play was halted, Korda clinched victory on his first match point upon the resumption, in the process snapping a run of four successive defeats on the ATP Tour.

Cameron Norrie will take on top seed Dominic Thiem next after his 7-5 6-3 win against Corentin Moutet, while Ugo Humbert let slip a one-set lead as he was beaten by Yoshihito Nishioka.

Meanwhile, at the Geneva Open, there was a maiden victory for French teenager Arthur Cazaux as he came out on top against compatriot Adrian Mannarino.

The 18-year-old held his nerve in a decider despite this being his first tour-level contest; Reilly Opelka or Pablo Cuevas will be next up in the event.

As for Federer, he will begin his campaign on Tuesday, the 39-year-old having played just two matches so far this year after undergoing two knee operations in 2020.

The Swiss superstar now knows he will be up against Pablo Andujar, who overcame Australia's Jordan Thompson in straight sets.

Tennys Sandgren saw off Salvatore Caruso 6-3 6-4, while Dominik Koepfer came through a tight tussle with Benoit Paire that spanned two hours and 39 minutes.

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