Toni talks

Photo via El Mundo

Photo via El Mundo

Vic sent in this article and provided us with a translation – thanks, Vic!

Toni Nadal: ‘I see Rafael with fewer options to win in Wimbledon’

He admits that he likes discussing and raising, occasionally, slightly frequent opinions. That’s why Toni Nadal (Palma, 1960) is afraid that the mass media extract his words out of context. And nevertheless, he explains himself and details his ideas to support them with the same spirit that he has infected in his nephew, whom he always refers to as Rafael to separate him from the public personage who answers to the name of Rafa Nadal.

Q: You have creates a storm with your about the Parisians…

A: [Laughs] seems incredible to Me the hell raised by these declarations that, obviously, are extracted out of context. The topic is much simpler. I said that there was, from my viewpoint, a stupid attitude – perhaps it is not the appropriate word – that of basing one happiness on the damage of others. I was referring to envy. The people who have bad wishes for others have a stupid attitude, because that theoretically does not have to give you any happiness. Later the conversation got longer, one of the participants said that there was a public worse than the French, which was the Parisians, and I said again that then the Parisian public was stupid because he wants that. And nothing more. It’s not ok to say it, I would not do it again, but I keep on thinking that the Parisian public, or specifically that of Roland Garros, has been very incorrect with the Spanish.

Q: But it has raised hell…

A: Everybody has a right to think about others and the way they want and say it. It seems that some of them have related these declarations to the campaign of the Govern… That someone could think that a few words of mine could affect the tourism seems to me exaggerated, slightly exaggerated. And others wonder why the Govern has not said anything about this. If the Govern was coming to me to argue because of a few declarations, mistaken or not, that would be topping it all, I believe that this topic is completely disproportionate. I have the right to say what I want and, without taking it out of context, this is what I think.

Q: They have gone against Rafa, but also against other Spanish.

A: It has been done to all the Spanish. To Corretja, to Arantxa… to all. We all know the hostility that the Spanish produce inside France. But no problem. It is curious, because Rafael is a loved and admired dude, but they want him to lose. Before being a number one, his trainings were the most followed, but every year they want more that he loses.

Q: Is that influenced by the fact that he is a number one?

A: Not, because it is the same. It was done to Corretja and he was the number 21. It has no influence. It is the fact of being Spanish.

Q: How is Rafa?

A: Well; affected by the painful defeat of Roland Garros, but the way a person has to be when he has a defeat, if it is possible to call that a defeat: affected, but not more than a normal thing.

Q: How is his injury?

A: I do not want to enter this topic. I spoke already in his moment and now it would be stirring it. He is trying to rest to come to Wimbledon at 100%.

Q: Losing is just one possibility…

A: Losing is a possibility that we contemplate in any tournament that we play, what happens is that when you lose it hurts you badly

Q: What is the first thing that you said to him after the defeat against Soderling?

A: Nothing at all, that we had played badly, that had been too nervous and that we have to start with a clean slate.

Q: How does one assimilates a defeat of these characteristics?

A: Like everything in life, you assimilate it with time. It is not the first one; Rafael has lost matches – not many – that he should not have lost and this is one of them, but no problem.

Q: Has that something to do with the effort to play in Madrid?

A: Not, because the effort has been much less than the previous year. It is true that Madrid breaks you in half, because it is not like anything you have to do afterwards. It is a strange clay court, because the height makes it almost faster than some fast courts, therefore it is not a good preparation for Roland Garros. By no means is necessary to attribute the defeat to Madrid, no way.

Q: Do you see Rafa with options to win again in Wimbledon?

A: Now I see him with less options that earlier because what gives you a lot of possibilities of victory is confidence. And when you lose, you have less confidence. Just like in the previous years, victory is inside a group of players. If I had to bet, I would do it for Federer, Murray, Djokovic, Rafael, Roddick, Del Potro… This is the group of people who aspires to win.

Q: It would have been better to come with a run of victories.

A: It is always much better because you go with a different calmness, you go with more confidence, you go with your homework done. Now everything seems more difficult to you, but this gets fixed when you spend two or three days of competition.

Q: Does the fact that he has to defend for the first time the title change anything?

A: Not. What it changes is the fact that you have a calmness because you have obtained something important for you like winning in Wimbledon, bearing in mind that after the last two finals it would be difficult to win there. You have this calmness: you know that you have won and, if you play well, you believe that you can do it again, although it is very difficult.

Q: What do you think Rafa has to improve still?

A: We always speak about the same. I do not meet anybody who still does not have something to improve. Even Federer, who has an incredibly drive, can improve and fail a little less. In the case of Rafael, he can improve especially the serve. But we were serving well in Australia, although we have gone down the level a little.

Q: For some reason especially?

A: I do not know it. In sport it is not quite mathematical and you go very much by sensations. In golf, there are days in which you see the big hole and others in which you see it very small. And these sensations also happens in tennis.

Q: You never place Rafa amongs the best in history. Do you think it really or is it a motivation strategy?

A: I would say the same if he was not my nephew. Not because he is my relative I am going to consider him better. The first thing is that in order to know the best of all the times, it is necessary to know the history. Let’s take from the Open era, in 1968. From this time, there are people with more qualifications than him: Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer have marked more of a distance from the others. Because in the end the only thing that dictates how good you are historically is the distance between you and the ones who follow you. And in this aspect these three are above the rest. Then there comes Sampras, which is very close to them. And then a group with Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, perhaps Agassi. And in the following group would be Rafael, with Wilander, Becker, Edberg. I do not put him at the heights of the big ones because he is not there. If he keeps on playing five more years and wins seven Grand Slams, I will place him there.

Q: is Federer always reborn from his ashes?

A: I do not know about always, but at least this time he has very been lucky in this tournament because Djokovic has not been good, he has been at one point of defeat with Haas and he saved in an incredible way with Acasuso. History does justice to him. Anyway, I believe that this year he is not very fine. He lost in the key moment in Australia, in Indian Wells and Miami he was not very good, in Montecarlo he played badly – although it is true that he had not trained much – but in Madrid he played better and, since he has a big quality, the moment you give him a little life…, it has already been seen in Paris.

Q: Recently, a sports psychologist was sure in that the generosity of Rafa was his biggest enemy and that he had to become more reserved in order to become stronger. What do you think?

A: I base myself on empiricism. If he has not been reserved and they have said of him that he was a strong headed guy: now are we going to say the opposite? The whole world has opinions for everything, although I do not share it. I see neither the meaning of it nor its rationale, because I believe that it is the other way round, that you are stronger if you are natural and know that you do a normal life. But if she says it, she will have her reasons…

Q: What can be the solution to the conflict that many tennis players have to endure with the antidoping methods?

A: I do not know it, because it is not my problem. Let’s make it clear that I would like a fair play completely. I have said it often, Rafael would never take a doping product, not because of controls, but because of principles, because if you know that it’s bad, you are not going to do it. From here, I understand that it is not correct that a series of persons abuse their power and limit your freedom. I do not understand that you should warn and reserve one hour every day during your sports life so that someone comes to do a control on you if he wants. There are easier measures to control everybody.

Q: Are you afraid of something professionally?

A: The rivals and the injuries. If the rivals were much worse, Rafael would always be on top.

Q: Do you it understand that perhaps the advertizing environment that surrounds Rafa can harm him in his game?

A: It is possible. But let’s look at the results: he has been doing that for a long time and he has become number one of the world. It can harm him, obviously, because it distracts training time to do other things, but it is the life of a sportsman. They have a compressed life and, although his thing would be only to play tennis, it is normal that there are other things and we must not exaggerate it, because he has been doing it for a long time and he has not done too bad.

Q: It would be good to put also a little more sanity to the circuit…

A: Yes, but it is very complicated because there are a lot of vested interests and many tournaments that have their protected week. You change surface and balls and that produces problems. I would advocate a semi-annual ranking. I believe that those at the top would be the same ones same, but they would be more relaxed because they would not always be in deep water.

Q: The fact of being a trainer of the number one of the world has it ever gone to your head?

R: Gone to my head? No, I know myself and I know I am not any very sharp.

Q: Convince me that you are not such a hard and Spartan type as sometimes we depict in the mass media.

A: I am a hard type as far as words are concerned, with Rafael or with my children, but I am not Spartan. I admit that I am hard at the time of reproaching something, of giving my opinion, of tightening the rope to train. I was much harder as a young man [Laughs].

Q: If he was a trainer of another player: how would you recommend him to play against Rafa?

A: [Laughs] There Are different systems, but it depends on the player whom I was training. If it was with Federer or any of the tennis players of maximum level, I would say to him: ‘ play as you know, I believe that you are going to win him’. But if he was a player of a lower level, yes I would modify something. I, as I begin, with Rafael I always try to do first our game and do small changes according to the rival. I believe in training, but if he cannot approach the net, I cannot push him to do it, although it is what it’s necessary because the rival would fail. To win a top player you have to play very concentrated and make use of the small opportunities that you have.

Q: Do you read the news that Rafa or you generate?

A: Hardly ever. I do not like it. I got used to not reading them with my brother Miguel Ángel. In his first time with Majorca F C, I was going to the field and on having returned, I was saying ‘today my brother has played well’. And the following day, they were giving him a zero. The Majorcan character is very demanding with their countrymen, but not so much with oneself. We demand our countrymen, but not ourselves. I do not share this feeling and I am demanding with myself and with Rafael, but not with someone that I do not meet. That’s why I was surprised with many of the criticisms that I was reading about Carlos Moyà, they were incredible. I was always saying the same: this guy is the seventh of the world and you have him in bad consideration, you who are the number seven million of your work and have yourself in good consideration’.

Q: What would have happened to Toni Nadal if Rafa had chosen soccer?

A: I was a tennis trainer before Rafael and I had quite good boys. I would have continued a few more years in that or would have devoted myself to the business that I have with Rafael’s father.

Q: Are you he afraid that your ways come apart some day?

A: No, the most normal thing is to remain the same. Because the relation is good, it is the most comfortable thing and things go well for Rafael this way. Ever since he was a child, I have always made him responsible for his victories and for his defeats, so I do not believe that I become a culprit if he loses.

Q: Do you argue very much?

A: I am an arguing person. It bothers me that they tell me I’m right and I have opinions that people usually do not have. And it is clear that we discuss tennis, soccer, behavior.

27 Responses

  1. sG says:

    I like Toni.

  2. loverafa4ever says:

    “Now I see him with less options that earlier because what gives you a lot of possibilities of victory is confidence.”

    So is he saying that Rafa is less confident, but can gain confidence after playing a few matches at Wimbledon?

    • johanne says:

      Yeah, that’s how I see it. I don’t think he’s saying Rafa has no chance to win, I think he’s just saying that this is new territory for Rafa. If you compare this year to previous years (esp last year when Rafa was coming into Wimbledon with a LOT of victories under his belt, including RG & Queen’s), it’s a different situation. I think he’s just saying that Rafa’s confidence has taken a little hit bc of what happened in RG (and prob bc of his knees too) but that winning a couple of matches can turn all that around. Toni also indicates that there’s a certain level of calm going into Wimby this year bc Rafa did in fact win the tournament and therefore “knows” how to win it.

      If Rafa beleives in himself, there’s no reason he can’t have a good tournament. :)

      • loverafa4ever says:

        phew! some positivity there. So he does believe that his ‘Rafael’ can repeat it after getting some matched under his belt. It is difficult to win, but he knws how to do it. gud!

  3. jimmy says:

    That’s just wonderful. Thanks so much

  4. Alice says:

    I am so worried about Rafa and Wimby. His confidence has been knocked and he is at a disadvantage by not having played any matches on grass yet. Roger is only getting his confidence back now after AO defeat last January.

    Rafa we believe in you and wish you great success in Wimby 09

    PS Is Rafa going to play at a grass event in England this week?

    If so Vamos Rafa, you can do it

  5. teejustice says:

    I’ve always liked Tio Toni. He’s his own man and obviously has a good relationship with Rafa. It seems they are both taking the right approach heading into Wimby. Here’s hoping for a good week when Rafa arrives on London on Tue and things work out for the best. VAMOS!

  6. tmi says:

    Good that they have asked some questions related to his comment about the french crowd. Nice he accepted that he might have used some other word instead of stupid. So much of controversy generated because of this. I hope by now every french ppl might have understood that this word came out of frustration and nothing else. Get well soon rafa. Your dream project of the year is awaiting for you. Regain confidence and do your best.

  7. Josh says:

    I hate how Yahoo! and Reuters took Toni’s words out of context (like he said they would), and said “Nadal may miss Wimbledon”, when Toni didn’t even say that.

    They then scare monger about how the injury is bad and then say his Wimbledon is doomed because of how he lacks confidence…I hate how the British media abuse information and then twist it so Murray looks good.

    Well thank you Miri for posting the truth!

    • loverafa4ever says:

      First of all they shud understand that by hyping Murrays possible success at Wimbledon or by making up stories of Rafa’s chances of playing/winning to be slim is not going to help Murray win. Cooking up des stories are not going to prevent Rafa from playing nor is it going to prevent Rafa from withdrawing.
      So instead of making up stories they shud look forward to a good tournament with awesome competition and fantastic tennis.

      I did read these articles and I got confused coz I read something at the official Rafa website and I was reading something else in these websites.

  8. faecoleman says:

    I can tell you Josh that I quite often visit the fans site on 606 bbc sports and there are so many Fed worshippers on there who just love to attack Rafa, I am always fighting his corner on there, its attrocious what they write, it really makes me angry. Nice to hear some opptimism from Uncle Toni, really honest comments too. Thanx for this Miri

    • Josh says:

      What is your username; is it still Faecoleman? Cause I am on there, my name is CurlyJosh ;) (cause I’m called Josh and i have curly hair)

  9. trip says:

    vamos rafa! period.

  10. CC says:

    “Q: How is Rafa?

    A: Well; affected by the painful defeat of Roland Garros, but the way a person has to be when he has a defeat, if it is possible to call that a defeat: affected, but not more than a normal thing.”

    Even if Toni says otherwise, I do wonder if this defeat did affect Rafa a lot more than any other defeat. I really do hope his confidence isn’t too knocked, but this interview makes it clear that it has definitely been lowered quite a bit.

    Oh, Rafa…go out and rule that court, wherever your next tourney will be!

    • jimmy says:

      “”I do wonder if this defeat did affect Rafa a lot more than any other defeat. “”

      Rafa’s got to be feeling down after the huge loss. It’s uncharted territory for him: In the past 4 yrs he’s always won on clay, and then used the momentum for the rest of the season.
      I think we can compare Rafa’s RG loss to Fed’s Wimb ’08 loss in terms of their dominance on clay and grass respectively. I recall Fed went through a slump immediately after loosing Wimbledon last year. Subsequently he lost to Simon, Karlovic etc in Master’s events and then in the Olympics QF to Blake. That said, he did come back to win the UsOpen.

      The problem for Rafa is that Wimbledon is immediately after RG. He’s got to be feeling intense pressure at Wimb. with the #1 ranking on stake, being a defending champion, having knee problems and following a huge RG loss. Let’s hope that Rafa gets an easy draw in the 1st few rounds, so that he can recover his confidence with some good matches.

  11. alik says:

    i know jimmy! rafa has got to dig deep ! he is a very strong young man and hopefully you said he will have a couple of easy matches to start of with.
    i hope he gets an easy draw…murray on federer side.

    • jimmy says:

      Exactly alik. If Rafa plays at Wimbledon, I just hope Murray lands in Federer’s half. Murray is playing awfully well and is more than likely to take out Federer in the SF . If Murray’s in Rafa’s half, it will be very hard for Rafa unless he’s 100%. And of course in that scenario Fed gets a free pass to the final. Nothing against Mr Fed, but it’s time for Roger to man up and face some top players en route to a GS trophy.

  12. ekattor says:

    hey! Rafa cud play at Hurlingham Club!!

  13. nic says:

    Thanks heaps for posting this Miri, and for the translation Vic. what an amazing, indepth and long interview. This is such an honest straight interview with Toni. Totally love the guy. He stands by his comments unequivocally about the French crowd, doesn’t seem to back down. But at the same time I shudder to think the kind of reaction Rafa may get next time he is on French soil. Poor Rafa, sounds like he was pretty down about the loss. The first time losing at RG, and the way it went down, totally would have had to hurt more than he could have imagined, eventhough he would have been prepping himself for the day that would happen. But Rafa’s tough as nails, and surely will be bouncing back from this.
    I think he would be able to believe in victory at Wimbledon if not for the knees, but now he could be tentative when playing because of the thoughts running through his mind about his condition. Though it’s pretty good news that he’s considering playing that warm-up match this Friday. Means there’s a glimmer of hope in Rafa’s corner. But he did answer a fan’s question on the homepage saying he still doesn’t know for sure about Wimbledon. Just hoping for the best decision for Rafa, whatever that may be. I think I would be overwhelmed with emotion seeing him back on a court, and what more at Wimbledon, I miss seeing him so badly over the last few weeks. But it’s also been calming, him being away from the limelight and recuperating quietly. Vamos Rafa, we love you!

    • johanne says:

      “But he did answer a fan’s question on the homepage saying he still doesn’t know for sure about Wimbledon.”

      I feel like lately he’s been answering more questions than usual on his website, don’t you? Something tells me he’s been getting a shit ton of fan mail these past couple weeks! I can only hope that’s helping to lift his spirits a bit more. He’s gotta know how much his fans want him to be happy & healthy. :)

  14. dutchgirl says:

    Toni is some special guy. Does anyone else ever wonder what would have become of Rafa if he didn’t have Toni as his coach? I know, no use for ‘what if’s’, but still…

    • June says:

      Yes, Dutchgirl I have often wondered about that also. Who knows the answer to that, but they certainly make up a great winning team & have a good sense of camraderie even though they are related. I guess that could be hard spending all that time w/your uncle/nephew I’m sure unless you do in fact get along as well as they seem to.

      • dutchgirl says:

        You’re right, June, it is a very special relationship between the two. And it could be this works better than what you see with players who have a parent as coach. Maybe that’s just a bit too close.

  15. Alice says:

    I really hope Rafa will be able to play Wimby this year. The longer he is off the court and not playing tournaments, the harder it will be for him to come back. I wish we could tell him not to worry about the ranking or other tennis pressures he has cos, whatever will be, will be. It would be great if he came back with a smile on his face and played free of pressure and pain.

    Everyone will be trying to take his title but, it currently resides with Rafa and, whoever wants it is gonna have to play exceptionally well to wrestle it from the grasp of our wonderful champ.

    Rafa, we miss you, get well soon.

  16. Ch F says:

    I think the media tend to take a lot of things out of context…Let’s hope that this time luck will be on Rafa’s side! I’m not saying luck is all it takes nor am I underestimating what Rafa can do, but it will be important for him to play well in the first matches. He’s going through a period every big tennis player has been through cause everybody looses at some point. In my humble opinion if he plays his first two matches the way he wants to and if he is happy with the way he plays them, everything can happen because his confidence will rise enormously. In RG you could tell he was not happy with the way he was playing and that’s what put him in a position of doubt. Let’s hope he will be healthy and able to put this extra effort to gain confidence in his game. Vamos Rafa!