Toni Nadal says Rafa spooked by Djokovic
Toni Nadal has let loose with another inside bombshell, telling Spanish media that his world No. 2 nephew Rafael Nadal is currently spooked by the big game of hot rival and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Nadal has been beaten six times this season by the Serb, most recently for the US Open title.
With the Spaniard's confidence in that confrontation perhaps dragging a bit, the words form his longtime coach and close relative are likely to be harsh - if true - medicine.
"There have been too many losses (to Djokovic) and it is true that Rafael has become nervous in their recent matches," the elder Nadal told the El Mondo newspaper. "What I saw at the end (of the US Open final) was that Rafael, despite the nerves that gripped him in the first two sets, had a good reaction in the third, went to fight and (try to) beat him.
"This gives me a certain hope."
Toni Nadal has never been shy with raw advice and opinions, and the recently published autobiography of the player paints the coach in a less-than-flattering light as a control freak.
While Toni doesn't yet rate the Nadal-Djokovic series as importantly as most would the Federer-Nadal rivalry, there is still some concern in the Spanish camp.
"Djokovic is playing superior to the rest, I hope it does not last forever," said Toni. "Rafael's game has worked well against Djokovic and has been very spirited. We must return to make a change, not in his game, but of mentality and try to win again."
Nadal is currently doing just that in Tokyo at the Japan Open, with Djokovic injured and missing the autumn ATP Asian swing.