Rafael Nadal's incredible success at an early age - and also later in his career - has often been credited to his uncle and coach. Toni Nadal has been touted by many, even outside tennis circles, to be an authority on all things sport.
In fact, the Spaniard could soon be taking up a position at FC Barcelona as an advisor, imparting his wisdom to the football world too. Given his knowledge of the 'beautiful game', Toni recently commented on the similarities between tennis players and Barcelona's greatest superstar - Lionel Messi.
Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni heaps praise on Lionel Messi ahead of potential new Barcelona role
Speaking to Marca, Toni first assessed the similarities between Lionel Messi and his nephew Rafael Nadal. He claimed that even though their styles may be quite different, the two champions are among 'the best in history' in their individual sports.
"Messi has been the best in the world for 12-13 years, doing incredible things and scoring incredible goals," Rafael Nadal's uncle said. "Honestly, I don't know how you can play better than him. Is he comparable with Rafael (Nadal)? Rafael is also one of the best in history. It is true that both have followed different ways to reach the top."
Toni Nadal then went on to liken the playing style of Lionel Messi to that of Rafael Nadal's greatest rival Roger Federer. However, he reiterated that Nadal's ability to hit 'really difficult points' is not unlike the manifestations of Messi's genius.
"Messi would be similar to what (Roger) Federer regarding the style of play but I think that he is similar to Rafael too," said Toni. "Sometimes we see Rafael Nadal and we only see him running. But, Rafael has an amazing ability to hit really difficult points and they are tough to be equaled. So yes, they can be similar in the end."
Rafael Nadal has recently reignited the GOAT debate between himself, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, after his record-equaling 20th Grand Slam triumph at Roland Garros this year. Even though he has a more rugged, defensive playing style than Federer's touch-based attack and Djokovic's smooth flexibility, Nadal has managed to be just as successful as them, if not more successful, in most parameters.
In fact, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have often been compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo respectively, for the way they have used contrasting styles to scale similarly great heights in their sport. But as Toni pointed out, Nadal is more than capable of turning up the style every now and then, just like Messi and Federer.Published 20 Nov 2020, 11:51 IST