“Failed More Than He Had To”: Uncle Toni Reveals Reason Behind Rafael Nadal’s Difficult Loss to Novak Djokovic at French Open 2021

Published 06/20/2021, 4:59 PM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 11, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic with Spain’s Rafael Nadal before their semi final match REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Twenty-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal, who recently announced his withdrawal from Wimbledon and Tokyo Olympics, had a lot of help from his uncle, Toni Nadal, right from his starting days as a tennis professional.


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Uncle Toni wasn’t just responsible in shaping up the Spaniard’s game but brought out the winner mentality in him that led to the twenty majors Nadal won over the years.

Rafael Nadal of Spain (L) and Toni Nadal (R) speak during a training session prior to the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 10, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Watch this story: When Novak Djokovic Called Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal the GOAT


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When Toni Nadal decided to leave Nadal’s team to focus on mentoring young players at the Rafa Nadal academy, there was real hope that Toni’s mentoring would produce talented players to the ATP tour.

Since the academy’s inclusion, it has produced talents like Casper Ruud, Jamie Munar. Carlos Alcaraz, amongst other. Also, uncle Toni has recently agreed to coach the young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime for the European clay-court swing.

With the kind of coach uncle Toni is, the future of upcoming talents from the Rafa Nadal academy definitely looks bright. Along with coaching kids at the academy, Toni Nadal was also named the director of a grass-court event in Mallorca.

“I have never been a complacent coach” – Uncle Toni reminisces coaching days with Rafael Nadal

The Mallorca Championships, which was supposed to be inaugurated last year, got postponed due to the COVID-19. However, the event garnered a lot of attention from next-gen starts this year with the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, and Karen Khachanov have decided to play the tournament as a warm-up for Wimbledon.

Before the launch of the event, Toni Nadal talked about how he coached Rafael Nadal and instilled the belief in him so that he could go and reach the zenith in tennis.

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates victory with the trophy alongside coach Toni Nadal after the men’s singles final against Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

I tried to make him consistent with what he had chosen in life, my idea was to prepare him for difficulty. I have never been a complacent coach with my nephew although he always believed things were going to be okay. Rafael chose to go as high as possible and I always reminded him that it was going to cost him dearly”, explained Toni. 

The Spaniard’s ex-coach also explained why Nadal lost against Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the recently concluded French Open.

Against Djokovic, Rafael failed more than he had to, he must therefore accept this failure”, Toni Nadal concluded.

The loss against Djokovic would have been a jolt to Nadal’s confidence on the Roland Garros turf. Even though the Spaniard threw every tactic at his disposal in the first three sets, it wasn’t enough to stop the brute force from Novak Djokovic.

With the Spaniard’s withdrawal from Wimbledon, the Serbian star has a real chance of winning his 20th major title and equal the grand slam titles record of both Federer and Nadal.


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Sagar Ashtakoula

330 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.