Toni Nadal's Interview to Tennis Magazine France [Archive] -

Toni Nadal's Interview to Tennis Magazine France

09-25-2010, 04:27 PM
Has anyone posted the full inteview yet on MTF..?
Mjau picked up some quotes from that interview and created a hate thread. :worship: :rolleyes:

An awesome interview..The interviewer really asked some rare questions that I don't think Toni answered before. I am posting the full interview here. Be patient..the read is worth it :yeah:

Interview with Toni Nadal

Tennis Magazine (Fr), nį413, Octobre 2010

In a way Ė and this is not to put him down Ė heís part of the scenery: Toni is essential in the landscape of world tennis. Everybody obviously knows the uncle and trainer of the world nį1 but what do we really know about the man, who is rarely seen without a cap as if itís a protection and who has the debonair style of a tennis ďprofessorĒ weíd all like to have? Not much. So, for once weíd like to listen to a trainer Ė and not just any trainer! Ė to decode with him the mechanisms that have allowed him to, stone by stone, build one of the biggest phenomena in the history of the sport. By applying a healthy discourse that has education and work as the lead motives, ďuncle ToniĒ takes us along with him on the path to the incredible destiny of the Nadals. Through this interview, we gradually acquire a better understanding of how Rafa became RafaÖ.

Tennis Magazine: Toni, everybody knows you as the uncle and coach of Rafael Nadal but they know less about your own background. Youíve celebrated your 50th birthday this year (T.M.: he was born on February 17, 1960 in Manacor). Could you briefly describe this half-century?
Toni Nadal: What can I say (smiles)? Like everybody in the family, I was born in Mallorca and I still live there, in Porto Cristo I have three children, one girl and two boys aged 9, 7 and 6. I was the second-born in the family after Sebastian, father of Rafael. I have two other brothers (T.M.: one of which is Miguel Angel, former football player at FC Barcelona) and a sister, quite a bit younger. As you know, we are a very sports-minded family but I was the first to play tennis. I tried a lot of sports, including football of course, but also swimming, table tennis (ping pong) which is the sport in which I managed quite well since I was the junior champion of the Balearic Islands. From the age of 14, I started playing tennis.

T.M.: What triggered your interest in the sport?
Toni: In 1972, I was able to go to the Masters that took place in Barcelona. That year, I saw Ilie Nastase win and he became my idol. So, I started to play in the Tennis Club of Manacor, Rafaís current club and Iíve been a member since 1974.

T.M.: Quickly, you reached a very good level, by the wayÖ
Toni: Letís not exaggerate. Letís say that I had a good regional or national level. I reached group A in the 2nd Spanish category (T.M.: Still, this category grouped the 30 best Spanish players). After that, I no longer disputed a lot of tournaments because I was also studying in Barcelona. I followed law studies because thatís what my father wanted and also history because that interested me more. In a broader perspective, I wasnít very passionate about those studies. I couldnít see myself getting a job in it because I could quickly see that I didnít have the potential.

T.M.: What sort of player were you?
Toni: I had the same style as Josť Higueras (smiles). I made very few mistakes and I was physically good. The problem was that I did not have a strong shot. I lacked aggressiveness. My backhand was correct but my forehand wasnít very good.

T.M.: How did you earn a living before becoming Rafaís coach?
Toni: I was interested in sports so I ended up getting a trainerís degree and I started to teach in the club in Manacor. Before becoming a football pro, my brother Miguel was in that club as well and he was very good at it because he became the junior champion of the Balearic Islands. There were quite a few very good juniors. Our tennis school has an excellent quality, itís one of the best on the Balearic Islands.

T.M. And then, Rafa cameÖ
Toni: Rafa was a very good youngster amongst others. I first started to train him in the tennis school where he started in 1990 at the age of 4. Itís only a couple of years later so it seems, in 1996 or in 1997, that I started to focus only on training Rafa. But that was not because we had decided that he would become a professional player. It was too early for that. It was a decision made because it was easier that way. Rafa started to play in a lot of tournaments and he needed somebody to accompany him. Rafaís dad preferred me to do that and he also backed it financially.

T.M.: So, you took charge of little Rafa and perhaps, you made the most important decision of his life: to let him play with his left hand whereas heís a natural right-hander.
Toni: No! Thatís a legendÖ But itís really not the truth. At the start, he played with two hands but using one hand to direct. I had the impression that he was stronger on his left side than on his right side. So, I figured that he was left-handed; itís as simple as that. Besides, even if he ate with his right hand, he also played football with his left foot. However, at no point did I tell him: ďHe needs to play with his left hand because that way, he will be much stronger.Ē However, since Iím not completely stupid, I simply advised him to use his strongest hand. Thatís it. Besides, I donít think that itís that much more advantageous to be left-handed. Just look at the worldís best players: there are not many of them there. No, the only thing I did advise Rafa was that at the age of 10, he needed to stop playing his forehand with two hands because no top player had a two-handed forehand and I couldnít imagine my nephew being the first. So, this is all there is to this story. Would Rafa be as strong now if he used his right hand? Thatís something we donít know and we will never know.

T.M. So, when you started to train only with Rafa, was your first job a huge technical task?
Toni: No, not really. If you want to work in a healthy way with somebody, the first task is to make him responsible. Even as a kid, Rafa had to be the master of his own tennis decisions. After that, my philosophy as a coach is not to tell a player: ďyou have to hit that ball this or that way because thatís the way that shot is played.Ē Thatís wrong and you can see how so many players have so many different techniques. I will rather tell a player: ďIt doesnít matter how you take that ball, but you need to hit it there with this speed and that sort of effect.Ē What I mean is that you have to look beyond technique. First of all, you need to know and understand the game. In fact, the work is mostly done on a mental decision-making way. With Rafa, I always set him short term goals. Every day, he needed to be better than the previous one. Thatís more important than technique. So, I obviously worked a lot on pure technique as well because otherwise, you wouldnít be a coach!

T.M.: Do you still use the same training methods now with Rafa?
Toni: yes. But after all, you need to adapt your philosophy to the type of player youíre working with. If I was training Federer, I would probably do more technical work because his game depends a lot on technique and you need to maintain that. Federer is not the sort of player to do leg work (running) all day long.

T.M. Would you love to train Federer?
Toni: No, thatís not what I wanted to say (smiles). You know, when Rafa retires, I donít think that I could train another player. It would be difficult. I think that Iíll go back to training youngsters.

T.M. Rafa's game is more characteristic game than others, less academic. Is that due to the fact that you gave him more freedom on a technical level?
Toni: Hard to say. Rafa has a very thorough foundation on a technical level. As time passed, he has developed his own game and indeed, itís a lot different that the game style of others. Since we played a lot on clay, I focused on his forehand, his topspin and his consistency. For me, those were the three most important points.

T.M. Another point that is without a doubt at least as important for you as a trainer but also as his uncle is the upbringing. Today, people applaud him specifically for his perfect upbringing.
Toni: Yes, thatís true. Itís been essential for two reasons. Firstly, itís a lot easier to work with somebody who has an exemplary behavior. Secondly, like you said, itís because Rafa is my nephew. I didnít want people to have a bad image of him. Having said that, I didnít do much work in this department. Rafa has always been an easy boy. I donít remember him misbehaving on a court once; he has never broken a racquet in his life. Generally speaking, I think that people neglect the upbringing all too often. I remember what Ricardo Piatti, trainer of Ivan Ljubicic, once said during a colloquium in Italy: ďthe problem today is that if you ask a father if heíd prefer to see his son to become the Roland Garros champion rather than a well brought up kid, heís pick the first option.Ē Besides, itís easier to win Roland Garros if you have a good upbringing because that implies that you have discipline, that you can listen and that you can accept your mistakes.

T.M.: Is it true that when he was a kid, you made your nephew believe that you had magical powers?
Toni: Yes (smiles). Rafa was the little boy in the family and everybody always had so much fun with him. As a joke, I made him believe all sorts of things: that I was a star at AC Milan, that I had won the Tour de France five times with a moped (laughs)ÖIndeed, I also told him that I had magical powers. One day, he must have been about 7 or 8, we lacked a player in the 12-year group to compete in a team event. I took him along with us and to reassure him, I told him that he didnít need to worry if the match went badly because I have the ability to make it rain. It was winter. So, when the match got tight at the start, it started to rain and then, Rafa turned to me and said: ďItís alright, you can make it stop now, Iím going to win!Ē Another time, we were watching a match of Ivan Lendl on tv. It was a replay of an older match during which Lendl retired. Rafa didnít know that. So, at the exact moment when Lendl retired, I told him: ďAlright, Iím going to make Lendl lose.Ē He couldnít believe his eyes. I have a lot of examples like that.

T.M.: When you think back to those moments and you look at him now with his incredible achievements, isnít it you who canít believe your eyes now?
Toni: I am surprised by his career, yes. Because I look around us and I see a lot of players who are just as good as he is: Murray, Djokovic, Gasquet, for exampleÖThese are players who perhaps have an easier touch of the ball. And yet, Rafa has by far the best career. So, you ask me whether Iím surprised. Yes, I am. Iíll go even further, I donít understand it.

T.M.: But donít you think that Rafa has something more than the others in this regard?
Toni: Perhaps so, yes. He has an incredible game intensity and a good mentality. I think that he has a better mental control than the others.

T.M.: At the start of his career, a lot of people said: ďhis game is too intense, it wonít lastÖĒ
Toni: (interrupts) But a lot of people talk without understanding what theyíre talking about.

T.M.: So, you donít share this opinion?
Toni: No. You basically need to understand one thing. When he arrived on tour, he was very young and not really ready for all of it. He made his debut among the 200 best players of the world at the end of 2002 and we didnít foresee that to happen this quickly. However, suddenly, he needed to step it up to keep up with the tour. All year long, Rafa had to play against adults whereas he was just a boy. In those circumstances, the only thing he could do on court was to run and to run everywhere. Itís true that in the beginning of his career, he did nothing but that. However, this is the image that has stuck with him often without people noticing that gradually, his game was evolving. Today, if you really look at him, he doesnít run any more than the other players on court. So, itís true that his forehand is not as fast as SŲderlingís because he has learned to play with more topspin. However, just look at the last Roland Garros final and you will see that Rafa ran much less than SŲderling. Same when you look at the semi-final in Wimbledon against Murray but in a different context. That must mean that his tennis is good, no? If Rafa had started out on tour later than he has, when he was already fully formed, people would surely not have said this about him.

T.M. What about the future? Will you work on evolving his game some more?
Toni: (thinks). The most important thing is to make sure that you do something better than how you did it on the previous day. Because if you stop improving, youíre dead. So, rather than evolving, I would call it improvement.

T.M.: Does it make you sad that people talk more about his physique and his mental ability than about his technique and his talent? :worship:
Toni: Today, people want to talk about everything but without going deeper into the matter. You need to look at things more carefully and with more objectivity. Certain people have said that Rafa doesnít have a very good technique. But what is that, technique? Is it hitting the ball very hard and with a beautiful movement but once out of every two hits, it lands outside the court? Is it to have a very good forehand, a very good serve but no backhand? No. For me, technique is about being able to place the ball wherever you want it to land with no matter what shot.This is what Rafa can do. So, perhaps he doesnít have the same technique as Federer, but he does have an excellent technique. A good forehand, a good backhand that he can slice, a correct volleyÖHe has a hand that allows him to do a lot of things.

T.M. Basically, donít you have the impression that Rafaís talent is often underestimated? :worship:
Toni: I donít know. People can think whatever they want anyway. Itís not a problem for me. I do think that they overestimate his physique. If you compare him with French players like Monfils or Tsonga, Iíd say that they have a better physique, theyíre more strongly built. They say that Rafa is always there to hit the ball but I think that this has more to do with his excellent anticipation skills and a very good perception of the game.

T.M. You say that you donít attach a lot of importance to what others say about Rafa. However, you were affected last year with how they whistled at Rafa in Roland GarrosÖ(note: in 2009, the year of his first (and so far only) defeat in the 1/8 final against Robin SŲderling, the public firmly supported the Swede)
Toni: Iím not saying that I donít attach a lot of importance to it, Iím saying that people are entitled to think whatever they want. I think that the Roland Garros public was very incorrect that day. In sports, itís good to cheer for somebodyís victory but itís not normal to wish defeat on somebody else. Iíve often repeated it to my nephew, who is a keen supporter of Real Madrid as you know, that I understand that he wants Real to win but I always told him that he should not wish defeat on Barcelona. I know that a lot of fans are like that but I think itís a rather dumb way of going about it. Anyway, weíre not brought up like that in our family, thatís not what weíve been taught. Itís for that reason that I was shocked by the way the Parisian public acted and even more so for three reasons: Firstly because Rafa has always been a very correct player, secondly because he was the defending Roland Garros champion and thirdly, because heís given a lot to that public by giving many autographs and such. So, to support SŲderling, yes. No problem. But to whistle at Rafa, no.

T.M.: Have you forgiven the Parisian public these days?
Toni: I donít have to forgive them for anything. This is my opinion on what happened, thatís all. This year, things were better, much better.

T.M.: How far do you see Rafa going from this point on?
Toni: I have no idea. If he happens to win no more tournaments, weíre not going to make a projection about it. Our only goal is to play well, to improve ourselves. Thatís the best way to reach serenity: to do the things as best as you can. Rafa has the opportunity to do professionally something he loves above all else. Itís up to him to do his best and thatís easier to do when you love what youíre doing. Beyond that, weíre not focused on accumulating Grand Slam tournaments because thatís not entirely up to us. You have other players to deal with. The work we put in it is the only thing that depends totally on us.

T.M. Do you think that Rafa will be able to play until heís 35 for instance?
Toni: No, I donít think so. A lot of people predicted him to have a short career and this career is already going strong for 8 years now. But anyway, you have to consider that he started on tour when he was very young and I think that by the age of 27 or 28, fatigue will start to set in. Weíll see.

T.M. How do you explain that you Nadals have such strong minds?
Toni: I think that a lot has to do with upbringing. One of the key elements thatís instilled on us is that in life, you have to face difficulties head-on. You canít think like a child that everything is beautiful. There will always be problems and you need to take them on. In tennis, like in life, you have to accept your mistakes, realize that you have to learn a lot in order to do less and you have to put in the necessary work to get there. This is what weíve always done with Rafa. From when he was little, I made it so that things didnít always go smoothly. So, unlike other kids today, he has learned that things donít always happen the easy way, not right away. We had to deal with a lot of problems together like his serve which was really not good at the start. Thatís a key ingredient in sports, no? Tennis means hitting the ball back and forth over the net, there is no other signification. However, tennis becomes a passion when you measure the mental effort it requires, when you sum up all the difficulties you've encountered and when you gradually, step by step, start to rise above these obstacles. This is a good summary of Rafaís career. Whatever happens in the future, I can assure you that heíll leave a happy and satisfied man with all that he has accomplished.

09-25-2010, 04:34 PM
This is the man who made Nadal, IMO anyone else and Nadal would not be the player he is...

09-25-2010, 05:03 PM
Excellent interview :worship: It's a good motto for everyone to live by - to learn something new, something better every day :yeah:

09-25-2010, 05:10 PM
when Rafa retires, I don’t think that I could train another player. It would be difficult. I think that I’ll go back to training youngsters.Looks like Rafa has a lifetime deal with Toni the magic Mayorcan.

Moreover he says he's 50 years old so by the time Rafa retires I don't think he'll even bother go back and train the youngsters.

09-26-2010, 12:12 AM
Excellent interview. I always like to read about champions--or people in general overcoming the odds. I like to find out what makes them tick.. what is the key to their successes.. not only as athletes or.. whatever but as people. This is my favorite part of Toni's interview.. and something I can take into my own life to make me a better person:

Toni: I think that a lot has to do with upbringing. One of the key elements thatís instilled on us is that in life, you have to face difficulties head-on. You canít think like a child that everything is beautiful. There will always be problems and you need to take them on. In tennis, like in life, you have to accept your mistakes, realize that you have to learn a lot in order to do less and you have to put in the necessary work to get there.

I just think no matter if you're an amazing athlete.. or just a regular guy or gal--amazing in... whereever your talent takes you, learning from your mistakes.. and not expecting everything to be "easy" that's just a great lesson. Life isn't necessarily "easy" and everybody has obstacles at one time or another--some having more obstacles than most. It's how a person deals with adversity.. to be the best he/she can be. That's really what it's all about.

Anyway, thanks for posting. Interesting and enlightening read.:)

09-27-2010, 07:43 AM
The read is definitely worth it. Thank you so much for posting. Uncle Toni fascinates me and to read about his philosophies in more detail is very interesting. One of the added bonuses for us Nadal fans when he won the Open and the golden slam is that the media has gotten a lot more interested in him and his life story so we're getting some great media about Rafa now. Thankfully, almost all of it has been positive and I'm really enjoying people getting to know this marvelous young man that I've admired for so long.

09-27-2010, 01:28 PM
Excellent material, thank you.

09-27-2010, 04:38 PM
Thank you for posting a fascinating interview! We can learn so much from Toni's philosophy not only to our tennis but life. I will introduce this interview to my readers in Japan. I'm sure they will love it!

09-27-2010, 06:45 PM
There's talk somewhere that Uncle Toni told Nadal that the day he smashes a racquet, he's gonna stop coaching him. Does anyone know if that's true?

Manila ESQ
09-27-2010, 07:35 PM
Great job, Uncle Toni! You're everybody's uncle now.

09-27-2010, 11:23 PM
Very informative, thanks for posting.