Toni Nadal has praised his nephew Rafael Nadal's incredible achievements, saying that he never expected the 36-year-old to win all the titles he has.
In an exclusive interview with Punto de Break, 61-year-old Toni said Rafael Nadal is one of a kind.
“I never imagined that my nephew would win everything he has won. I am surprised by what Rafa does, that with the pain he has, he is able to think about the ball and not about his foot.” Toni Nadal said.
The 14-time French Open champion has been dealing with a recurring foot issue called Mueller-Weiss syndrome throughout his career. Uncle Toni recalled when the 22-time Major winner told him he wanted to skip the 2019 French Open because the pain in his leg was unbearable.
“In 2019, in Monte Carlo, he lost to [Fabio] Fognini and told me that he couldn't take it anymore, that he needed a break and that he wasn't going to Roland Garros. He told me that he was tired of being in pain,” Toni said.
Nadal, however, did not skip Roland Garros. He won the Grand Slam after beating the likes of Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem and David Goffin, dropping just two sets.
To compete at the Paris Major earlier this month, the Mallorcan had to inject his foot with pain medication, which anaesthetized and completely numbed the leg. Uncle Toni said that it wasn’t the first time Rafael Nadal was taking part in a tournament with a dead leg.
“In other Slams also he played with his foot asleep. At Wimbledon 2008, he played the final against Federer with his foot numb too,” Toni said. "During the  Australian Open, we had a video call and he told me he couldn't move. But, after two intense matches, he raised the level of him and got in shape.”
If fit, Rafael Nadal is a candidate to win Wimbledon: Uncle Toni
Uncle Toni, who previously predicted that Rafael Nadal would clinch his 14th Roland Garros title this year, considers his nephew a favourite for the upcoming Wimbledon Championships,
“After Rome, I told Rafa that if he played like he did in the first set against [Denis] Shapovalov, the level was to win Roland Garros,” Toni said. “If he can play, Rafa is a candidate to win Wimbledon. There he made five finals in a row.”
In his press conference after the 2022 French Open final, Rafael Nadal revealed that he would not continue taking injections to compete. The Spaniard instead stressed the need to find a permanent solution to his foot problem.
On Tuesday, he was spotted walking with the help of crutches at Barcelona airport. He visited the city to undergo the first round of a new treatment called radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a procedure in which a radio wave produces an electrical current to heat a specific area of the nerve tissue. The process is expected to reduce pain for an extended period of time.