Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni recently commented on the Spaniard's appetite for continuously improving himself, remarking that his nephew knew that he had to surpass himself from a very young age.
With prime Roger Federer to compete against when he entered the ATP Tour, the 22-time Grand Slam champion knew then and there that he had no option but to better himself in every facet of the game if he wanted to stand a chance against the indomitable Swiss.
Speaking in a recent conversation titled 'Everything can be improved' during his time in Turin, the tennis coach touched on his time coaching his nephew, a job he undertook with great success until 2017. During that time, the World No. 2 brought up 16 Grand Slam titles, making Toni Nadal one of the most accomplished coaches of the modern era.
“In the end, surpassing others is not always feasible, surpassing yourself is the great challenge, it is what Rafa was forced to do more or less from a very young age, he understood it, and in life the fundamental thing is to improve above others in everything," he said.
The Spaniard further added that it was important that everyone put in their best work, irrespective of whether victory was guaranteed or not.
“We would have to ask ourselves if we are becoming a little weaker. I am sorry for those who have problems and we must try to make an effort as much as possible so that they are well, but we also have to get used to the fact that things are not necessarily go well," Toni Nadal said.
Toni Nadal believed that life worked on the same principles that he learnt on the tennis court, which was that one earned success only through the sweat on their forehead -- or in the case of his nephew, the sweat from their whole body.
“What I applied on the tennis court is the same as what I would have applied outside. I believe in effort, in work, meritocracy, I believe in people earning things with the sweat of their foreheads, in the case of Rafael with the sweat of the whole body, and that is what I applied,” he said.
Toni Nadal will be in Turin coaching Felix Auger-Aliassime against his nephew Rafael
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni will have to put his familial loyalties on hold this week, as he will don the mantle of Felix Auger-Aliassime's coach at the ATP Finals, where the Canadian is drawn in the same group as the Spaniard.
Alongside the Spaniard, Auger-Aliassime is one of the favorites to get out of the group and into the knockouts, ahead of Casper Ruud and Taylor Fritz. In the other group, on the other hand, Novak Djokovic is seen as the front-runner, with Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev fighting for the remaining spot.