Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have won 51 combined Grand Slam singles titles, and last 10 straight but a group of younger players is aiming to break their hold on the big events. But veteran Gilles Simon says it could still take this group a while to go toe-to-toe with the Big 3 at the Slams.
There are now six players age 23-and-under in the Top 20, with 22-year-old German Alexander Zverev and 20-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Top 10. But no player younger than Dominic Thiem, 25, has even reached a Grand Slam final.
“Roger, Rafa, Novak are still better than the other players, better than the younger players that are here," the 34-year-old Simon told press at Queen's Club, where he reached the final. "It's of course harder to perform every week and to be 100 percent every time. But we could see again Rafa in French Open was just better.
"So maybe they [younger players] will not win before 21 because they are still playing and performing so good, but the real question is who's gonna win... the first slams? Who's gonna be on top?
"The first one who is gonna win a Slam is going to have a massive advantage on the other one. Maybe Felix [Auger-Aliassime] will be this one. Maybe other players. Maybe Tsitsipas. Could be a lot of players, because they have a very, very good generation. But you still have three guys that are tough to beat.”
This "unique" dominance of the Big 3 gives them a "huge advantage," according to Simon.
“They have a huge advantage winning. Maybe it's hard to understand this from the outside, but when you win that much, or for us when we lost that many matches against them, it's really hard,” explained Simon, though he also said younger players might be less intimidated. “Even when some days you play better than them, you're in position, but it's hard to finish.
"It's going to be easier for younger players to do that. Sometimes you play them for the first time, you don't know what to expect yet. You go there. You didn't lose yet. When you lose once, twice, three times, four times to the same player, it's really hard to win the fifth one.
"So it can always happen. You can always have a young player playing his best game, bringing his best game and beating one of the top players."
Simon added that it's one thing to pull off a big win—and another to do it back-to-back with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in the field.
"But there are still three, even if they are one more time less consistent than before, because for so many years they were in the semifinal basically every time, every tournament of the season," he said. "You still have one better than the other ones right now.”
Simon is No. 25 and has reached a career-high No. 6 in the rankings. The Frenchman has won 14 career titles.