Mark Baker/Associated Press
Rafael Nadal's uncle and lifetime coach, Toni Nadal, will now and then come out with his unique perspective of the tennis world.
Last summer, Toni told Spanish reporter David Nadal (h/t Matt Cronin of tennis.com) that he has nothing to hide when it comes to coaching Rafa from the sidelines, even citing his age as the reason for his bold admission.
Looks like Toni's advancing age (53) means he is going to continue to add psychological observations surrounding Rafa. Tennisworld translated a French Interview from We Love Tennis in which Toni insisted that Rafa is not as physically imposing as other top tennis stars:
In my view, there are a lot of players whose physical are well above: Monfils, who is monstrous on that front, Tsonga, Djokovic, terrible on that front ... And then Ferrer! Yes, Ferrer, Monfils and Djokovic are the very best. So Rafa does not really make a difference on that, no. It is in the mind that the fact it is in the head it is very strong.
This seems like a surprising comment given that Rafa has always been identified by his physical endurance and strength. Even as a 19-year-old French Open champion, Rafa was immediately pegged for his cut-off sleeves, rippling arms and thick legs. Not as physical as his rivals?
So what is Uncle Toni's purpose in playing Zen Master?
- Tiresome repetition in trying to prove that his nephew has had to overcome at least some physical limitations from an underdog role.
- Rafa's mental toughness is better than everyone.
- Looking for new ways to motivate Rafa.
- Looking to take pressure off Rafa.
Sorry, Uncle Toni, but you can't say this after 13 Grand Slam titles and as perhaps a veiled attempt at explaining Rafa's physical breakdown at the Australian Open. Your comments might have some validity, but have a gaping hole in the middle, kind of like this week's Burnt Bagel.