interview uncle toni

Toni Nadal: My goodbye is near


Toni Nadal: "My goodbye is near"

02/10/2014 TENNIS PLANET
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Q. Has your relationship with Rafa changed during the years?

A. It changed when he got older and we stopped having a father-son relationship. The age gap doesn`t mean much when you`re both grown men. At first I was dictating everything that needed to be done but, as Rafael grew older, he became the one who decides things, not me, which is fine since that`s what responsible people do. I have always established the relationship with the idea that ultimately he was responsible for what he does, not me.

Q. Do you play tennis?

A. At the moment I do not play anything. I played tennis when I was young but I do it very sporadically now. I only do it when I have no choice and we need a sparring partner for Rafael. But it`s not good for me because I have back problems.

Q. How do you feel when you play with Rafa?

A. I feel bad! The balls come very fast at me and sometimes I have to swallow them!

Q. This past August was different for you, right? instead of being in the United States with Rafa you were at home. What did you do?

A. Obviously many things were different. We expected to be in America but in the end we couldn`t make it. It is always difficult when you cannot to compete, especially when the major tournaments comes. But, in life, you have to accept things as they come. In sports there are times when injuries prevent you from doing what you have been preparing to do, but you have to accept it. There are always other reasons to be happy and motivated.

Q. Have you played golf with Rafa during this time off the Tour?

A. Yes. We have played golf but I am a way worse player than he is

Q. Many people seem to think that Rafa could become a professional golf player. What do you think about that?

A. No. It doesn`t make any sense. He plays well and has an handicap 3, but to think that, after being a tennis player, he could become a golf player is unfair for professional golf players.

Q. We know it will be a while before Rafa retires but what will you do when that day comes?

A. Well, I'm not worried about what comes next. I am at an age where I`m going to say good bye to the courts whether Rafael retires or not. I guess I'll keep connected with the world of tennis though. Rafa opened an academy in Manacor, so I think I will work there. I have also received several offers from other places in Europe. What I`m sure of is that I want to continue working in tennis.

Q. Do you reject the idea of training someone else?

A. It would be quite hard after being so many years with Rafael, who has been such a successful player. I have never felt uncomfortable in our relationship. Young guys sometimes lose respect for older people. I would never want to be in that situation. I would prefer to be involved with the initial stages of a player career, when they are not on tour already, because, in the end, players respond to what they have been prepared for during their youth years.

Q. Has Rafa´s training before he became a pro made him who he is now?

A. The training has helped him to succeed but the key was his talent. When you are one of the best players in the history of the game, you don`t achieve that not only through training, the main requirement is being talented. But I do think that training has helped him to have a good attitude and overcome some adversities that he has faced throughout his career.

Q. Had Rafa had another trainer, would he have been so successful?

A. I can`t answer to this question. I have been instrumental for Rafael because there was a time when I was giving the guidelines for his game and his behavior on and off the court. But there were also his parents. If he had had another coach, he probably would not have been so focused on tennis because, as a kid, he loved football (soccer) more.

Q Has there ever been a time during all these years when you thought of stop coaching Rafa?

A. No. Obviously over the years, as it happens in any relationship, there have been some frictions. But he has never thought of removing himself from the situation. I was a pretty tough coach, especially in the formative years of his career, but now Rafael is 28 years old and things have changed a lot.

Q. Is there something else Toni Nadal wants to achieve in tennis? Do you still have dreams?

A. I have many actually. The first is that my children become good tennis players. No doubt it is one of my greatest dreams. But everyday makes me dream about something. Go to New York and try to win, it gives me great satisfaction. We are going to Paris-Bercy and London and we'll go with the dream of winning. I value things and try to be grateful for everything that has happened to us. We have done very well and the truth is that, since I`m aware of how difficult it is to win, I value every success. For me winning any tournament is a dream.

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