“From 8 Years Old”: Rafael Nadal Looks Back to When Uncle Toni First Saw His Talent

Published 04/07/2021, 6:48 AM EDT
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – APRIL 13: Rafael Nadal of Spain in a practice session as uncle and coach Toni Nadal watches on during day two of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tennis at the Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 13, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal is one of the most accomplished athletes in the sports world. Unquestionably, a colossal part of the credit for his success goes to his team and especially to his uncle and ex-coach Toni Nadal.

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The now 60-year-old Spanish trainer was the head coach of Team Rafa from 1990 to 2017. During this time, the duo of Rafa and Toni collected 75 ATP singles and 11 doubles ATP titles. Now, the Spanish World No. 3 has taken a look at the time when he could barely hold a tennis racket.

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Rafael Nadal and Toni Nadal started working hard from a young age

Rafael Nadal revealed that he has been involved with tennis since he was a three-year-old kid. And soon, his uncle Toni, a coach at a local tennis club, saw his exceptional talent.

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)

“My uncle was the coach of the Manacor Tennis Club, and when I was three years old, I started going. I think that, from 8-9 years old, maybe 8, it did seem that I had a little bit of outstanding qualities,” Nadal said.

(All quotes have been translated from Spanish to English via Google Translate)

Both Toni and Rafa Nadal worshipped perseverance and humility and worked their way into the big league. The 34-year-old reflected on how they took on every opportunity they received.

The Spaniard added, “We took things seriously, and the goals that my uncle had with me were ambitious. As a child, obviously, the next goal was every game I played here in Mallorca more than anything else.”

Their passion for the sport and the will to keep fighting paved their way to success. Eventually, Toni decided to step down as the head coach to focus more on the next-generation players.

Carlos Moya, who was always a part of the team, took on the head coach role for Team Rafa. Nadal has reiterated many times that he entirely depends on his team.

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Which tournament will Nadal play next?

Rafael Nadal has not played in any tournament except the Australian Open so far. But he has regained his health now and also begun his preparations for the upcoming Monte-Carlo Masters 1000.

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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – APRIL 19: Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a forehand against Guido Pella of Argentinean their quarter-final match during day six of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters at Monte-Carlo Country Club on April 19, 2019, in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

It is unknown to none that the Spaniard adores the clay-court swing, and thus, he would be excited for the same. The tournament will start on April 11, 2021, and it here that Nadal has won a record 11 titles.

Do you think the Spaniard will win his 12th Monte-Carlo title this year?

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Purav Joshi

590 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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