Rafa Roundup: Here’s What Uncle Toni Said About Coaching Relationship With Rafa

Rafael Nadal of Spain looks on in his second round match against Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus on day four of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Jan. 18, 2017 - Source: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Toni said that he finally discussed his plans with Rafael this week and that Rafael was initially surprised, in part because of how well things had gone in Australia.

“He was thinking about the short term, and the short term looked very good,” Toni said. “But it was not like I was stepping down immediately. If I had stopped with Rafa overnight, that clearly would have been big news, but I really didn’t think me deciding to focus on the academy next year would be big news.”

That, judging from the Spanish headlines, was a miscalculation.

“My error,” said Toni, who said he should have spoken to Rafael directly before saying anything publicly. “If I thought it was big news, I would not have said it there in Budapest in that setting.”

“Now I am really excited to be in the academy. I step down, but [Rafael] is in good hands. Now I am going to make the most of this 2017. It has been a very long journey, loads of seasons. If instead of my nephew, I had coached somebody else, I would have stepped down much earlier.”

Toni said he would always be ready to give a hand when needed, even though Carlos Moyà and Francis Roig will now take the reins.

“Let’s imagine a scenario where Moyà is not available in 2018 for a few tournaments. And my nephew asks me to help him,” Toni said. “I’ll do it for sure and I’ll enjoy it. My intention is to work at the academy and if they need me, I’ll be there.”

Q. Which of these players has taught you the most with regard to their work ethic?
Marc Lopez: Rafa, once again. By spending time with him on a daily basis, I’ve been able to learn about his routine, how professional he is, and everything he’s done for tennis. He lives for tennis, he trains obsessively and is very ambitious… And he’s very humble. I’ve known him since he was 14 or 15 and I’ve been to Mallorca to train with him on several occasions. He tries to surpass himself every day and that’s how he’s achieved all that he’s achieved – and I’m sure that he’s not finished yet. I have a lot of respect for the player and man that he is. He’s a very special player, different from the others. And, since he’s also a good friend, that further strengthens our bond on the court.

Given where Nadal and Federer were/are in their careers, given the arc of their rivalry, given this joint stand against the Murray/Djokovic duopoly, given their ages, given the unlikely sways of the match (As a colleague asked me days later, seeking confirmation: “Wait, Federer came back against Nadal? Isn’t it always vice versa?”…… maybe we just agree that they were both magical, historical moments for tennis. We are in debt to both players and the rivalry they built. And that one man won the first match and the other man won the second leaves us with a nice bit of symmetry.

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6 thoughts on “Rafa Roundup: Here’s What Uncle Toni Said About Coaching Relationship With Rafa

  1. AN EXCITING TIME RAFA, GO FOR IT. LEAVE SOME TIME TO RELAX MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT. YOU ARE STILL THE BEST, JUST A MATTER OF GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT, ALL YOUR FANS KNOW YOU CAN DO IT.

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  2. Mrs Joan Dean

    Uncle Toni has been Marvellous for Rafa, I hope he has great success with the Academy as for rafa he is the greatest and a all round wonderful person and a great tennis player We hope he does real well for the 2017 season Vamos Rafa

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  3. Maria (England)

    Talking to Rafa first would have been the right thing to do , but hey that’s Uncle Toni for you. Everything is sounding very positive and it sounds like Toni is happy with his decision . He will always be there for Rafa , that’s is the most important thing.

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