French tennis player Gilles Simon has thrown his support behind Novak Djokovic and accused Roger Federer of losing his way when it came to supporting lower-ranked players on the tour.
In an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe, Simon said criticism of Djokovic’s bungled Adria Tour, which resulted in he and several other players testing positive for the coronavirus, was harsh, and that Federer’s role in player pay discussions deserved more criticism.
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“I knew Roger would step up to the plate when there were discussions on the prize money of the Grand Slams a while ago," he said.
“But the impression I have is that we lost him on the way, that the representation of the players does not matter to him. If there is a voice that carries, it is his.”
Simon said said it was interesting that Federer largely escaped mainstream criticism for his choices during player pay discussions, whereas he felt Djokovic consistently faced significantly more cutting criticism, particularly from the media.
Many, including the likes of Australian star Nick Kyrgios, were highly critical of Djokovic’s decision to push ahead with the tournament, as well as his anti-vaccination stance.
Federer favoured by tennis world: Simon
While he said the Adria Tour was certainly a mistake, Simon said the tennis world did not treat Djokovic the same way they did Federer - despite similarly impressive record.
“I tell myself that Novak is trying to tackle complicated issues in the interest of the players in general," Simon said.
“And I was bothered by this story of the Adria Tour because, by making a huge mistake, all this work fell apart.
“It's a 'media game' that wants that. After the errors with Adria Tour, all his (Djokovic's) work is reduced. It is easy to say: 'Never listen to him again!' now for the media.
“I see Djokovic like any human being, with his strengths and flaws.
“But with Roger Federer, we only talk about his strengths. With Novak - only about his flaws.
“It would annoy everyone if Djokovic breaks Federer's records. It angers people that he is so strong.
"The anger against Novak is a huge mistake. Much of the public doesn't consider him as (important as) Roger or Rafa (Nadal).