‘I instructed Rafael Nadal to play hard and…’, says top coach

Renowned tennis coach Toni Nadal has detailed that the game has gotten much faster since Rafael Nadal’s early years on the Tour. Uncle Toni and Nadal enjoyed one of the most successful partnerships in tennis history, before parting ways at the end of the 2017 season. After taking a break from coaching, Uncle Toni returned to the Tour and is now working with the world No. 11 Felix Auger-Aliassime. “This sport has become a game of speed, not of strategy. In a short time, everything has accelerated a lot from the first years of Rafa’s career. Now the way to seek victory is to hit hard before the opponent. I feel that now everything is well studied, but in the end everything is about playing well. Have a high percentage of first serves, play with good speed. I think that at this moment young people are less willing to think because they focus on hitting hard and they have coaches around them who are in charge of the strategy,” Nadal said during his appearance on the Tres Iguales podcast.

Uncle Toni comments on Rafael Nadal

Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and ex-coach, recently spoke at length about his nephew, the Big 3, the Next Gen and tennis in general on a Spanish podcast. And in one section of the interview, Toni tried to explain why Novak Djokovic isn’t as popular among the fans as his two big rivals. “It hurt him to finally arrive on the circuit when there was already a very strong rivalry between Roger and Rafa,” Toni said. “Federer and Nadal, they were two opposing styles, two different trajectories, and that made the fans very excited. It was therefore difficult to find a place at that time.” Toni further recalled a moment from the final of the 2010 US Open, when his nephew came up to him for some advice in the middle of the match. “I remember in the US Open 2010 Rafa came up to me in the middle of the game and asked me what to do,” Toni said. “I instructed him to play hard and deep to the center, and only change directions when he had a very advantageous position. But inside, I was thinking that we were only left to pray because this guy was being better than Rafa.” Asked about the level and prospects of the Next Gen, Toni Nadal remarked that at their best level, they can match the Big 3. “When they play at their best level they are at the level of the Big 3, the problem is that when they play badly their level drops more,” Toni said. “Whoever manages to stabilize that will be able to become the dominator.”