Toni Nadal pens heartfelt tribute to Rafael Nadal
Toni had announced earlier in the year that he will step down at the end of the season.
What’s the story?
Toni Nadal penned a heartfelt tribute to his nephew, Rafael Nadal after stepping down as the 16-time Grand Slam champion’s coach. The 56-year-old had announced earlier in the year that he will not be travelling with the 31-year-old anymore and will, instead, focus on the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca.
In the Spanish daily El Pais, Toni wrote, “I conclude a happy stage of 27 years that began the day when the son of my brother Sebastian entered my tennis court with only three years. Today I leave yours but my path does not end here.
“I will continue to be linked to tennis because my enthusiasm and love for this sport, fortunately, remain intact.”
In case you didn’t know
Rafa started his training under his uncle at the age of three years and Toni has been with him since. The two forged one of the most successful partnerships in the sports world that saw them clinch 16 Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals and grab the numero uno ranking as well.
The heart of the matter
Toni also talked about his relationship with his nephew and said it had been ‘uncharacteristically easy’ with him.
“I must acknowledge and thank greatly, the person most responsible for my luck: my nephew Rafael. The relationship with him has always been uncharacteristically easy within the world in which we move.”
He admitted that it is because of Rafa that he was able to live experiences that surpassed his dreams as a coach. He also went on about the fact that coaching his world renowned nephew has taken him to incredible sites and that he got a chance to meet interesting people.
Toni concluded his tribute in a beautiful way, talking about how much Rafa’s figure has magnified.
“Today I feel greatly valued and loved because his figure has magnified mine much more than I deserve.”
The 16-time Grand Slam champion will next be seen in action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships -- a high profile exhibition tournament that will be held from December 28-30. Novak Djokovic has confirmed his return to competition at this tournament and the draw sets him up for a fascinating final clash with Nadal.
The familiar picture of Toni Nadal exhorting his nephew from the stands will soon be a distant memory but his absence won’t take away anything from what Rafa has achieved over the years. It is because of him what Rafa is today.
He inculcated in Rafa the values and qualities that the latter is known for, besides making him one of the finest players in the world. Toni might not physically be there to cheer for Rafa but his unflinching support and guidance will always be there with the World No. 1.