Former tennis player Frederic Fontang is of the opinion that what truly distinguishes Rafael Nadal from the rest of the tour is humility. The Frenchman cited the 21-time Grand Slam champion's modesty as the reason he has been able to play at the highest level even after enjoying so much success early in his career.
Speaking on the latest episode of the ATP Tennis Radio Podcast, Felix Auger-Aliassime's coach remarked that the Mallorcan's humility must be a common trait in the family, since his uncle Toni Nadal also possesses that quality.
Frederic Fontang and the Spaniard's uncle are both part of Auger-Aliassime's entourage. The Canadian added the latter as a consultant to his team last year and reaped the rewards almost immediately, winning his first ATP Tour title at the 2022 Rotterdam Open after eight runner-up finishes prior.
"With Felix [Auger-Aliassime], we had the chance to work with Toni Nadal in the last one year as a consultant," Fontang said. "You can feel that humility is everywhere in the family. That's one of the reasons why Rafael Nadal is able to continue to live his passion and play at this level after winning so many big titles."
The 52-year-old hopes parents and coaches will be able to instill the trait in up-and-coming players, so that they can realize that success and failure are a part and parcel of tennis.
"It's really important that the parents and the coach always pass the message to the player that it's a process, you know? You are going to lose, you are going to win, so don't feel too high or too low after the matches," Fontang said. "Humility is where you're going on the court with the same passion and you're trying to do your best every day and stay normal. That's really important."
The former World No. 59 added that the best players have the ability to reset after tough defeats and and work hard without getting too down on themselves. Fontang used a word that is often associated with Rafael Nadal to accentuate what he felt to be the distinguishing trait between top athletes and everyone else -- "resilience."
"There will always be some low points in your career, but you need to be able to reset and come back to practice the next day after a tough defeat or whatever negative phase in your life," Fontang said. "The best athletes in general, they have a strong resilience. They know where they want to go and they're able to come back to their process and to work."
While Rafael Nadal waits on the sidelines, Felix Auger-Aliassime begins his quest for his second career title in Morocco
On the tennis side of things, Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime are dealing with two contrasting experiences. While the former has to take it slow for the next few weeks to recover from a rib stress fracture, Auger-Aliassime is in Morocco looking to win his second ATP title.
The Canadian is the top seed at the Grand Prix Hassan II, followed by Dan Evans and Albert Ramos-Vinolas (third seed Fabio Fognini withdrew at the last moment). In his opener, the World No. 9 will take on wildcard and local favorite Elliot Benchetrit. A win against Benchetrit would pit Auger-Aliassime against either Alex Molcan or Stefano Travaglia.
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