‘For me Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are also legends,’ says Gael Monfils

Shahida Jacobs
Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray post match
Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray in action

Gael Monfils believes it is unfair to criticise France’s so-called golden generation of tennis players too much as they competed in the same era as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, adding that fellow legends Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka also made the lives of the chasing pack difficult.

Nadal, Djokovic and Federer ruled the sport the past two decades as they formed the Big Three – winning 60 Grand Slams between them, dominating the No 1 spot in the ATP Rankings and setting numerous records.

Murray and Wawrinka each won three Grand Slams while the former also spent 41 weeks at No 1 and won gold medals at the London Games and Rio Olympics.

Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon played at the same time as the above five, but they couldn’t quite end France’s Grand Slam title drought with Yannick Noah’s 1983 title at Roland Garros the last time a Frenchman won a major.

Former world No 5 Tsonga came closest to winning a major as he finished runner-up to Djokovic at the 2008 Australian Open while he also reached several Slam semi-finals.

The French quartet are often criticised for not winning a Grand Slam and/or fulfilling their potential, but Monfils feels they were unfortunate to play at the same time as the all-time greats.

“We always want to compare the incomparable. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are not champions,” he said on Game, Set and Talk. “These guys are legends. People forget it. If we could achieve the same things as them, we would be legends too.”

The former world No 6, who has slipped to outside the top 300 in the ATP Rankings following lengthy absences due to injury, used Nadal’s 14 French Open titles as an example while he also added that it is often difficult to forget to Murray and Wawrinka were also great.

He added: “I always take the example of Roland Garros. Who has won it 14 times? Has this ever existed? Two other legends have only won it three times, once Roger and twice Novak. And we are slapped on the knuckles. And we talk about these three players but for me Murray and Wawrinka are also legends.”

Since Nadal won his maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros in 2005, only five players other than the Spaniard, Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Wawrinka have won majors.

Incidentally, all of them have come at the US Open with Juan Martin del Potro winning in 2009 US Open, Marin Cilic lifting the trophy in 2014, Dominic Thiem successful in 2020, Daniil Medvedev victorious in 2021 while Carlos Alcaraz was crowned champion last year.

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