Toni Nadal takes stock of a great season

Photo by Beth Wilson

Photo by Beth Wilson

Thanks to Genny, we have a translation of an interview with Toni that appeared on

Toni Nadal hace balance de un gran curso

By T. Jaume (as translated by Genny)

The season fades and Toni Nadal (Manacor, 21/02/1961) sheds light on the keys of the brilliant season of Rafael Nadal. The coach of the world number one confesses that he is “very happy” for a year that has allowed his pupil to continue gaining ground to the tennis legends.

What has been the key to the season of Rafael Nadal?
His mentality. He has managed to overcome the problems and make changes. It is often noted his mental capacity, but we should not forget his great quality, technically and tennis wise. His merit is the determination to do something different that allows him to remain at the top.

The changes in the game, are they evolution or necessity?
The changes come out of necessity. Being a kid he was very aggressive and when he started in the ATP he began to run more, be two meters behind and throw high balls. When you win Roland Garros you go on doing the same, but when you aspire to win Wimbledon you have to change again out of necessity.

Do you like it more now?
It’s like football, I like it in different ways. I like the ability of defense, but tennis wise, this game is better. I don’t like to run more than the opponent, I like the opponent to run more than us.

How have you changed the methodology of your work?
Now he cannot be subjected to so much wear and adapts to the physical circumstances, but he also understands the game better. He does not need so much work to keep up the level. He needs to be focused and make a more specific work, instead of spending 20 hours on court with repetitions.

Does this year’s physical response give you guarantees?
We are cautiously optimistic. You never know where you are. We have the experience of 2009. This year has gone well and the idea is to follow this path, but the schedule varies depending on the results.

The build up of his character has given way to a new job.
At first, it was me to decide most things, but later on he was the decision maker. It is logical and what I’ve always searched in my life. We have worked demanding a lot to head towards the self-demanding, which is what makes you better.

Does training less lead your pupil to have more doubts?
Sometimes he would like to train more, but he understands that it is not as necessary. Today it seems that one can never doubt and has to sell the self-confidence. Doubt is good. Only fanatics have no doubts. It seems strange, but it is a habit of respecting the opponent and thinking that you’re not so good, that you can lose to anyone.

What does Djokovic envy from Nadal and viceversa?
He has the best backhand and a great timing. You get the feeling that he is never going to fail. Djokovic is very good and has many things that I would like for Rafael. On the other hand, I think Rafael has an extra and can increase the intensity.

Has the rivalry with the Serbian made him grow?
A great rival demands more from you, but I do not know if it makes you grow. Rather makes you slow down, because maybe Rafael would have won more titles if he had not faced players like Djokovic or Federer.

What is the difference you observe between the rivalries with Federer and Djokovic?
The difference between Federer and Rafael lies in the game. It is the contrast of styles, while with Djokovic it is a clash between high quality fighters, who are willing to leave it all.

The ranking and results reveal a big difference between Nadal, Djokovic and the rest…
As far as results is concerned, yes, but at the level of play it is not so. On court I do not see a big difference when we play with Ferrer, Murray, Del Potro, Berdych…

What changes to be number one in the world?
That when you go on court they say that you are number one. It does not change a lot. You fight for the tournaments and look at the year-end ranking. This year we looked at the ranking since he won the U.S. Open. The number one became the target because it motivated us. It was the confirmation of a great season. In addition, there had been talks of the possibility of regaining the number one three years after, something I think had only been achieved by Muhammad Ali. You live by the challenges and the main challenge is to win tournaments, but at one point you have to go to look for new ones.

How do you focus the defense of the number one in 2014?
I don’t think about things long-term because I am very happy with what has been achieved. I don’t want to become embittered by thinking whether we will be there in 2014. We will work in the best possible way to go on winning titles, but I don’t have a great concern about being surpassed.

What would be the challenge in 2014?
The first would be to win in Australia because it would mean to accomplish something that was only made by Rod Laver [Emerson did it, too], which is winning twice the four majors. I appreciate every victory no matter how small, so the main challenge is to play in the best possible way.

You always felt admiration for Borg and now your nephew beats him in almost everything…
I grew up watching him play and it seemed to me he was out of the ordinary. I find it outrageous that Rafael surpasses him because I had him on a pedestal.

So now you will put Rafael Nadal on a pedestal…
I do not put him [there] because he is from my family, although I know that he is one of the best in history. All he has achieved has the added merit of having done it in a difficult area for us. Being number one and winning every major is more difficult for a player who was formed on clay. Rod Laver won all four majors playing three on grass and one on clay. The same for Federer, because he plays all season in his domain. In this aspect Rafael has a lot of merit.

What are your plans for the Davis Cup?
The idea is to play when we can. The first round is complicated because you come from Australia and have to go to Germany. The way Rafael is physically, he has to be cautious, we’ll see.

Can Moya pull from him?
For many years he has been his best friend on the circuit and he [Rafa] will support him as much as he can. I think the election of Carlos is excellent. He is a capable, intelligent person with no desire for leadership.

How did you live the case of Nuria Llagostera? Have you talked to her?
I have not called her because I don’t have her number. I have lived her case with surprise, since it is not a way to end her career. I am convinced that she had no intention to dope. Sometimes things are exaggerated a bit because, for example, a ‘Frenadol’ gives positive.

It can turn into a paranoia…
Yes, because anyone can ruin your life anywhere.

Does the doubt bother you?
No. We have a clear conscience. If he [Rafa] was not tested, he would be just as clean. Rafael is tested a lot. All this should be public and say who passes the tests and how many.

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12 Responses

  1. killian says:

    Thanks so much for this, Genny! Great interview.

  2. raulmad says:

    Thanks, Genny. Great interview by Tony.

  3. sia says:

    Genny Thank you!!
    Nice wrap up of what Rafa has faced this year and his great ability to continually make adjustments to his game to improve. He is such a force!
    Nice photo Miri.

  4. Isabelle says:

    Thanks, nice to read this.

  5. Rafa4ever says:

    Genny, thank you so much again for the translation.

  6. JayDee50 says:

    Very interesting. Gracias Genny.

  7. Eva.F says:

    It is the first time I see Toni acknowledge Rafa’s outstanding achievements publicly. ‘One of the best in history’. Wow. Keep it up, Toni! Your nephew absolutely deserves your praise and it will do a world of good for his confidence.

  8. Sharon/London says:

    I think uncle Toni is very proud of Rafa and his achievements but doesn’t always say as much becos he doesn’t want it go look like he is bragging.

  9. Lan says:

    Thanks Genny for a well written translation. You’re the best. Also, thanks Miri for updating as always.

  10. Lucia says:

    Nice interview, I liked it a lot. he says much more than in many others. And…as I understood, Rafa will not be playing in Germany, for Davis Cup. Important for us, ’cause we want to go “somewhere” to see him playing, especially for my son – who has Rafa as his tennis idol – and Germany was the closest place. But that’s it…

  11. jodiecate says:

    “I don’t like to run more than the opponent, I like the opponent to run more than us.” :)

    Yep, poor Toni, i bet he hates all that running about!

  12. jodiecate says:

    Great article, thanks to all concerned!!

    I could never imagine Toni putting Rafa on a pedestal, ever.
    I’m thinking there must have been a lot of laughter involved in posing and answering that question.

    Great pic of Toni at the bottom of the original article.
    I see evidence there supporting my theory.

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