Rafael Nadal (L) and Toni Nadal
Rafael Nadal (L) and Toni Nadal

Uncle Toni reveals he made Rafael Nadal train in "bad conditions" and with poor balls, says he was "obsessed" with preparing his nephew for difficult times

Namit Kumar

Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni has played a huge role in the Spaniard's rise into one of the greatest players of all time. Uncle Toni coached Rafael Nadal right from the latter's childhood until 2017, overseeing 14 Grand Slam titles and numerous other milestones.

In a recent interview, Toni Nadal revealed his "obsession" with preparing his nephew for tough times. Toni said he made his nephew train for long hours on courts that were in poor condition and with balls that were in bad shape.

"For years I made him train in bad conditions and with balls in bad conditions," Toni Nadal was quoted as saying by MARCA. "Sometimes I told him that we were going to train for an hour and a half and then would extend the training indefinitely."
"All my life I had the obsession to prepare Rafa for difficulty. (He had to) learn to strengthen his character," the 60-year-old added.
"Al final lo que nos diferencia es la fuerza mental".
Toni Nadal, entrenador de tenis y director de @rnadalacademy, en #HaciéndotePreguntas.
1:30 AM · Oct 21, 2021

Rafael Nadal's mental strength has been one of the reasons behind his success. The 35-year-old will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and some credit has to be given to Toni Nadal's training methods.

The 60-year-old, who is currently heading the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, also said that an athlete's biggest asset is faith in their own abilities.

"When you lose faith, it is time to quit," he said. "In life one must have goals, one must have illusions and it does not have to frustrate him not to achieve them."

"Many boys play well when things go their way, but when things go wrong, an uncontrollable emotion ruins their game" - Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni

Rafael Nadal at the 2021 French Open

Rafael Nadal's academy in Mallorca has been headed by his uncle since its formation. As such, Uncle Toni has seen plenty of talented players come through the gates of the tennis center.

The Spaniard highlighted the importance of patience, and revealed that many young players he has witnessed at the academy have crumbled under pressure when things have not gone their way.

"We live in a time when it is not taught to conjugate the verb hold on: I hold on, you hold on," he said. "I see it in the academy. Many boys play well when things go their way, but when things go wrong, an uncontrollable emotion comes out that ruins the game."

Rafael Nadal has spent a majority of the 2021 season on the sidelines due to a chronic foot injury. The Spaniard was, however, recently pictured on the practice courts in his academy.

The 20-time Major champion will be gunning to make a return next year at the Australian Open.

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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