- Matt Trollope

Rafa's former coach discusses life post-Decima from the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca.

Rafael et Toni Nadal à la remise des prix de Roland-Garros 2017./ Rafael and Toni Nadal at the trophy ceremony Roland-Garros 2017©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Until this year, revered coach Toni Nadal was almost as much of a prominent fixture at Roland Garros as his celebrated nephew Rafael.

“Uncle Toni” was in the stands for all 10 of Rafael’s Parisian triumphs, dating back to the first in 2005 when Nadal was still just a teenager. When Rafa won his 10th – the fabled “Decima” of 2017 – Toni was awarded with a trophy of his own on court in a special ceremony for his role in the historic achievement.

But having served as Nadal’s head coach since the Spaniard’s first season on tour in 2003, Toni decided that 15 years of constantly travelling the globe was enough. The 2017 season was his last with Rafa on tour.

Toni Nadal et Rafael Nadal à Roland-Garros 2017.©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

As Rafael forges on with new head coach Carlos Moya, Toni now concentrates his coaching efforts at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca, which also allows him to spend more time at home with his family. Roland visited Toni at the academy, where he oversees the training and development of the 130 students based there.

And the publication learned that, ever since he worked with Rafa as a child on the clay courts of Manacor, Toni urged his nephew to always strive for maximum effort, because he didn’t know life any other way.

He was demanding of Rafa, yet the lessons he imparted served his charge extremely well. Toni favoured simplicity: “I do not play a game of quantum physics or a theory of relativity. We play tennis. It is not very complicated,” he explained. And he always implored Rafa to never be completely satisfied, and to never find excuses.

These methods and philosophies and the story of their shared life, which helped shape Rafa into the player who rose to world No.1 and and win 16 major singles titles, are explored in Roland.

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