Interview with Tio Toni


The interview was translated by ZeeKoe at Rafa's Official Forums, The interivew is with a Belgian Paper. She was nice enough to translated the entire interview, after the semifinal win at RolandGarros.

There was a really interesting interview with uncle toni in the paper today, saying that the loses against Djokovic in Madrid and Rome had a negative impact on Rafa's tennis and confidence. Uncle Toni tries to change this by talking into Rafa and giving him the necessary confidence. When they arrived in RG nothing worked anymore: Rafa was oblivious more stressed out compared to the previous years.  
Uncle Toni is more than a coach. He took all the important dissensions for his nephew/cousin (don’t know the difference, ‘cause in Dutch we use the same word). It was Toni who said that Rafa should be playing with his left hand ‘not because he would have more chance to success, but he had to choose and his left hand was the strongest’ precise Toni. ‘On the football field he was leftie as well’. It was also Uncle Toni who was Rafa’s safe haven during the divorce of his parents. That was the year he suffered his only loss against Soderling in Paris.
This year he defeated the Swede in straight sets. After his victory, Rafa celebrated like he had won Roland Garros. ‘Normal’ according to Toni, a few hours later in the players’ lounge. ‘It was against Soderling and it was his first good match of the tournament, so far. Until now, he was very disappointed about his level. He won each time without playing good. So it is normal, he went crazy after his match.’

Rafa said earlier that he had not the level to win RG. Now he has?
I don’t know if it’s enough to beat Federer or Djokovic. But at least it is better than the previous matches. That’s a good thing.

Rafa arrived in unusual conditions according to his standards: two losses on the clay. Do you grab (correct??) him differently?
Off cours! It didn’t go the way it supposed to go. I try to speak more to him, give him the necessary confidence.

Does it work?
We shall see.

Rafa has won RG already five times. Is it not becoming difficult to motivate him?
Excuse me? If you're at Roland Garros and you're not motivated, then you can better stop playing tennis.

What keeps him driving? That sixth title, something only Bjorn Borg achieved?
That’s not on our mind. For us, it is like the first time. Records is something you can look back to, after your career.

Could it be, that the dip form the last couple of weeks, is caused by less motivation?
It was partly technical. His game was not good. And partly mental. During his training sessions he touched the ball well, but when we arrived here, it didn’t work anymore. It was like he had lost his serenity to play. Rafa is obvisiously more nervous than other years, he has become afraid.

By whom or what?
By losing to Djokovic. By the tension and stress which is here in the air. That makes that he is scared. And that's a problem.

Who causes him more fear: Djokovic or Federer?
I don’t know? I think he is afraid the next opponent.

Can you compare the stress of tennis player with the stress of a footbal player?
Football players don’t know any stress. I know this because my brother played by Barcelona. And by the Spanish team. You have to check their faces when they enter to field. Football players laugh, joke in the players’ tunnel. The face of tennis player is convulsive, characterized d by the tension and stress. There is much more to lose. If he loses, he’s out. Next, the stress of the following tournament starts. If you win, you can barley enjoy your victory, because the next day the following match takes place. Football players always have a whole week to prepare for their next match. I saw my brother loosing the champions league final, against milan. I’m not saying he went partying afterwards, but he wasn’t very down either. 

  Rafa is not only playing for a sixth title, but the number one ranking as well. Does that cause any extra pressure?
I would sign immediately to become number 2,3,4, ... as long as we win roland garros. Winning is the only thing that counts, the ranking is subordinate.

In the man's game the four best players of the world made it to the semis. As a tennis lover, you must enjoy this?
Absolutely not, I preferred 3 players who are more weak by the last 4. Or that they were on the other side of the draw. Unfortunately that's impossible. Federer, Djokovic, Murray, i like watching them play, but not against us. They are too good.

We are from Belgium, so a Belgian question: what did you think of Kim Clijsters?
Kim clijsters, has she played, here?

You are kidding?
Non i did know that. Has she lost?

2 round, against a Russian player, number 144, while she was 6-3, 5-2 up and had two match balls. Do you understand that?
Incomprehensible, but it happens more often in tennis. In tennis the mental pressure is very high. When you are 3-0 up in football, you win the match. In tennis you can be 6-3, 5-2 up and still lose the match. You’re never sure. This is partly due the scoring. Even if you win 3 points, you can lose the game. So the points you won, were for nothing. This is frustrating and causes stress. As a result you’re never tranquil.

Federer-Nadal final tomorrow. Who has the most pressure?
Everyone has the same pressure. You can not be in the final without having any pressure. They both want to win Roland Garros. And who can win, has the pressure.

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