Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni claims Novak Djokovic was refering to Spaniard in comments about injury controversy, fully believes Serb isn't faking injury

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni weighed in on Novak Djokovic's recent Australian Open controversy

Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni recently gave his two cents about Novak Djokovic's injury controversy at the 2023 Australian Open.

Djokovic, who is currently in the quarterfinals of the tournament, has had to take more than one medical time-out during his matches at Melbourne Park so far because of a leg injury. But the 21-time Grand Slam champion has dominated his opponents regardless, losing only one set in four matches, leading to rumors that he is "faking" or "exaggerating" his injury to gain advantage.

Djokovic, understandably furious, shot back at those reports a couple of days ago. He asserted that only he was unfairly questioned by the press while "some other" players were not cross-examinated so thoroughly.

"When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting. I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone," Djokovic said.

Writing a column for El Pais, Toni Nadal stated that he understood whom Djokovic was referring to when he said "others" - his nephew Rafael. Given that the 22-time Grand Slam champion is the only other player who is a contender for titles despite his constant injuries, it wasn't hard for his uncle to read between the lines.

"I know perfectly well that there is a certain controversy regarding the contradiction generated by the excellent games that Novak has played and his gestures on the courts, and his repeated statements about the ailment he is suffering from in one thigh," he said.
"They have sent me a sentence from his press conference in which, with notable annoyance, he complains that the authenticity of his injury has been questioned and, instead, that 'they are victims to others when they also suffer them.' I am not very susceptible by nature, but I understand that 'others' refers to Rafael, the only 'other' injured tennis player among the contenders for the title," he added.

Toni did not have anything to say against the World No. 5, simply stating that his nephew's injuries have been proven to be real beyond a shadow of doubt over the years. As for the speculations surrounding Djokovic, the Spaniard was of the opinion that they were understandable given how well he played in his third and fourth round matches at the Australian Open.

"For years we have been able to verify how injuries, both in the case of my nephew and in that of other players, have had an immediate negative consequence in their matches or, if not, they have suffered it at the end of them," Toni said.
"That is why I think that Nole should not be surprised that his clear third round victory over Grigor Dimitrov and his crushing round of 16 victory against Alex de Minaur, both based on the same quality as always in both court displacements and punching effectiveness, surprise and sow certain doubts about the extent of his injury," he added.

At the same time, Toni Nadal made it clear that he himself was not one of the doubters, declaring that he fully believed Djokovic was not at his 100% last week.

"On other occasions it has happened that, after seeing him suffer from different kinds of physical problems, in the end he has managed not only to play excellently but also to win the final victory," he said.
"I do not at all question the veracity of the problems that the great Serbian tennis player has been dragging, but I am convinced, after what has been seen, that if they do not go further, they will not prevent him from performing at a high level and probably being the one to lift the trophy the next Sunday," he added.

Toni Nadal picks Novak Djokovic as the favorite to win the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open
Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open

Toni Nadal still picked Novak Djokovic, who he said is playing a "devastating" level of tennis at the moment, as the favorite for the 2023 Australian Open title, with Stefanos Tsitsipas being his second-favorite.

"The ones who seem to me to have the best chance of reaching the final are Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic, the second being the favorite judging by his excellent shape," Toni said.
"It is true that he has a far from easy game on Wednesday against Rublev, but it is also true that the Serbian player is showing a devastating level of play. In the matches he has played so far he has not had to suffer in the slightest to prevail," he added.

Tsitsipas has already booked his spot in the semifinals, where he will take on Karen Khachanov. Djokovic meanwhile will lock horns with Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals, and a victory there would pit him against Tommy Paul in the semis.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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Edited by Shyam Kamal
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