‘This guy was being better than Rafael Nadal’, says top coach

It has not been a good season for Rafael Nadal, greatly reduced by physical discomfort and without the ability to defend his crown in Paris, but the Spanish has kept his names at the top of some historical rankings and one of them is to be the player who accumulates the most consecutive seasons by winning more than one title. This year he has achieved it thanks to his triumphs in Barcelona and Rome, maintaining that trend started in 2005 and surpassing Novak Djokovic in one year.

2021 hasn’t been a vintage year for Rafa

Uncle Toni 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. While the Spanish coach verbally instructed Rafael Nadal to primarily hit down the center with depth, he was internally praying for a miracle because Djokovic was simply playing better tennis. “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.” Toni went on to emphasize that the basics – such as maintaining a high percentage of first serves – matter the most at the end of the day. “I feel that now everything is well studied, but in the end what it all consists of is playing well,” Toni said. “Having a high percentage of first serves, playing with good speed. I think that right now young people are less willing to think because they focus on hitting hard and they have coaches around them who are in charge of strategy.” Recently on a podcast, Toni Nadal revealed some encouraging news regarding his nephew’s injury. He said, “His progression has always been highly conditioned by the congenital foot injury, which he now suffers. That is why everything he has achieved has a lot of merit.” Moreover, he added, “He is encouraged and I think he will get through this once again. I am optimistic and my feeling is that 2022 can be a good season for him and that he has 2 or 3 good years left, but as time progresses everything is more complicated,” concluded his former coach, Toni.