Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni believes Carlos Alcaraz is technically superior to his nephew's 18-year-old self. According to Uncle Toni, Alcaraz and his nephew are different players stylistically but are similar in their hunger to win at any cost.
Carlos Alcaraz has drawn comparisons with Rafael Nadal ever since he burst into the scene. While most of the earlier comparisons were due to both of them being Spaniards, some have recently also claimed there are similarities between Nadal and Alcaraz's heavy groundstrokes.
Like the 20-time Major champion, Carlos Alcaraz is also making waves on the tour in his late teens. By reaching the quarterfinals of the 2021 US Open, Alcaraz has become the youngest player in 31 years to reach this stage of a Major.
In that context, Toni Nadal was probed about the differences and similarities between Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz during a recent interview with Marca. Uncle Toni responded by claiming that Alcaraz and his nephew both have an innate desire to win, before adding that it is difficult to find players with their levels of focus.
"They (Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal) are different players, but they do have things in common," Toni Nadal said. "All the people who play very well have things in common. The first is the will and desire to win, and nowadays it is difficult to see a boy who is very focused."
Rafael Nadal's uncle further revealed he was taken aback by Carlos Alcaraz's sheer quality the first time he watched the teenager in action. Toni Nadal then made the bold claim that Alcaraz is technically superior to what Rafael Nadal was when he was 18.
"From the first time I saw him play, he already surprised me," Nadal added. "Carlos at this age is more complete than Rafa was at his age at a technical level."
Many believe that comparing Carlos Alcaraz to someone as great as Rafael Nadal will do more damage than good, as it would add more pressure on him. However, Toni Nadal sees no problem with that.
The 60-year-old believes that every top player will invariably be compared to the greats of the game, and he claimed "it is normal" to compare the teenager to Rafael Nadal.
"It is fair to enter into comparisons," Toni Nadal said. "We live in a world in which a player is good compared to others, and it is normal to compare him with Rafael, I totally understand it."
Toni Nadal also talked about the technicalities of Carlos Alcaraz's game, lauding the fact that he takes the ball early.
"He is a very complete player, with a very aggressive and very modern game, playing the ball very quickly," Rafael Nadal's uncle said. "He has very good technique and looks very focused, he has a very hopeful future."
"I am not nervous because I experienced many situations like this with Rafael Nadal" - Toni Nadal on Felix Auger-Aliassime's SF against Daniil Medvedev
Toni Nadal's charge, Felix Auger-Aliassime, will take on Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals of the 2021 US Open on Friday. This will be the Canadian's first-ever semifinal appearance at a Major, and as such, nerves are expected to be a factor.
Rafael Nadal's former coach, however, claimed that he is not nervous about the semifinal clash. Uncle Toni pointed out that there is still some time left for the match, before explaining how being with his nephew for several years has made him impervious to this kind of stress.
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"I am not nervous because, firstly, there is still a long time to go before the game, and secondly, because with Nadal I fortunately experienced many situations of these and I am used to it," Toni Nadal said.