Uncle Toni: We Knew If Rafa Didn’t Win The Fourth He’d Lose The Fifth
by Tom Gainey | June 8th, 2014, 4:51 pm
  • 38 Comments

After his newphew’s ninth French Open title over Novak Djokovic, Uncle Toni gave his thoughts on the match to RolandGarros.com, revealing that Rafa would have been in serious trouble if it went to a fifth set.

“We’re delighted and very emotional about this victory,” Uncle Toni said. “This is the first time that we came to Roland Garros having lost so many matches on clay this year. We lost at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome and even though we won in Madrid, I can’t forget that Nishikori had to retire in the final. So we were short on confidence. Djokovic played very well here in the first set. Rafael wasn’t playing badly but he made a few errors and when you’re playing Novak, there’s no room for manoeuvre.

“The match turned on its head at the end of the second set because Djokovic’s level dropped a little. We all felt it, and Rafa stepped up then. This match wasn’t at the same level of the 2012 final or last year’s semi-final, but it was a very, very intense final.

“At the end of the fourth set, Rafa was cramping up everywhere and he almost couldn’t go on. We really had to fire him up because we knew that if he didn’t win the fourth, he’d lose the fifth because Novak was stronger than him physically. At the end of the match, when he came up to me in the stands, he told me that we needed to get the doctor to come and see to him because he was really, really exhausted.”

The website also caught up with Djokovic’s coach Marian Vajda.

“It was a strange match,” Vajda said. “It was disappointing but you have to admit that Rafa was simply better than he was today. Novak started off the match very well and had a really good first set but he didn’t manage to maintain his level of play because Rafa just got better and better.

“In the second set, Rafa was playing quicker, his top-spin was more and more difficult to play and the rallies were incredibly tough because the two players were stuck in the corners. I don’t know if the spectators realised or not but it was really, really intense. Novak started to have a few doubts, he was also having a few stomach problems and when you’re playing Rafa, any time your game slips a little, there’s no way back.

“In the fourth set, Novak got back to 4-4 but Rafa didn’t give an inch, he gave it his all and he ended up winning the match. It’s tough to lose a Grand Slam final but that’s the way sport is.”


Also Check Out:
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Stanislas Wawrinka Calls Out Uncle Toni For Coaching Rafa Before Every Point Yesterday!
Uncle Toni: Rafa To Return To The Practice Courts Next Week
Uncle Toni: Rafa’s Back Should Be Fine, But The Crowd Should Not Have Booed Him
Uncle Toni Nadal: Rafa’s Body Isn’t That Great, Ferrer’s Is Better!

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38 Comments for Uncle Toni: We Knew If Rafa Didn’t Win The Fourth He’d Lose The Fifth

Purcell Says:

I’ve seen Vajda interviewed a couple of times and he strikes me as being a very pleasant person. His comments bear this out. I felt dreadfully sorry for Novak today as he was clearly unwell, and yes, I know he had a bit of a reputation for retiring etc a few years ago but that’s been sorted so it seems. There’s been little mention of his discomfort in the reports I’ve read so far let alone mention of the idiot who shouted out as he was serving. Shoddy biased media as usual. Thank goodness the crowd gave him that wonderful ovation which clearly moved him greatly.
As for Toni Nadal, the royal ‘we’ is as usual in evidence and how did ‘we’ fire him up pray? Oh, so Novak was stronger physically……..no he wasn’t. And do we have to do the get the doctor I’m really exhausted routine? Enough of this heroic deed scenario. It was Djoko who was the hero today.


Eric W. Says:

It was Djokovic who was the hero today? You cannot be serious. Choking in the finals of Grand Slams doesn’t qualify as a “hero” in my book. Especially not to his long suffering and very loyal fans, such as myself…


gonzalowski Says:

Agree with Purcell, but thee were two heroes here, IMO;
and one of the most valuable aspects of Rafa’s career is his dealing with the ‘Nole affair’, being able to get over such a good player like Djokovic, who has been beating Rafa consistently.

Fed hasn’t get this with Nadal, for example.


Humble Rafa Says:

most valuable aspects of Rafa’s career is his dealing with the ‘Nole affair’,

I am the best in my generation, no question. No one owns me.


Humble Rafa Says:

Uncle Toni knows everything. I feel like I was born to an all-knowing philosopher. I just follow his orders and great things happen.


Eric W. Says:

He has twice the shotmaking making ability, but half the heart, which is why Nole’s legacy will be as one of the biggest underachievers in tennis history. He’s nothing but Nadal’s sidekick, and trots out the same philosophical excuses after every big loss. “You know, that’s sport…” Perhaps if he won a final once in a while, he could bask in victory instead of pontificating on his predictable defeats?


Steve 27 Says:

According to some posters here, Tío Toni is the Al Capone of tennis
Well, after all, the tandem Uncle and nephew is beyond than some trend to bring some coaches of the 80s, even some of them have questionable behaviors.
Special bonds are unique after all.


Gordon Says:

Well well…

Where are all the ‘replace Toni as coach’ posters?

All during the clay season I wrote that it matters not if Rafa had a sub par (by his gold plated standards) clay season leading up to Roland Garros; until he is defeated in a best of 5 set outdoor match in clay he must be regarded as the favourite.

Congratulations Rafa. And just because Nole lost it does not mean that he choked.

I do not for the life of me get the unabashed hatred thrown Rafa’s way, for no other apparent reason than he is the best clay player in the history of tennis.

Fun ahead in Halle, with only Nishikori and Raonic (barring massive upsets) being in the way of the first Fedal (or maybe Naderer is better to use?) final on grass in a long time.


Steve 27 Says:

Gordon, Rafa has no business winning on grass at least this year. In 2015 will be one more week to rest after RG, so, dont expect too much of him in SW19.


JF Says:

Right, cause Nadal has never won wimbledon after the French


Polo Says:

Of the active players, only Federer has a better record at Wimbledon than Nadal. He even beat Roger there.


Daniel Says:

It’s not that Nadal can’t win Halle is more ythat he will need physycal and mental recovering. This last week was exhausting for them. Both him and Djoko experienced physical stress today so I expect him to go to Halle just to play 2 or 3 matches. And than get some 10-12 days of rest to prepare for Wimby, with due practice in this period.

Don’t think he will go to Halle to win it.


Okiegal Says:

I can’t believe fans of Novak are apparently so upset about his loss today that he’s being thrown under the bus. My gosh, he beat Rafa the last four times they played…..he’s not going to win every time……but to call him an underachiever is carrying it a little too far……and I’m a Rafa fan! Sad comments, really.


Okiegal Says:

If I were Novak I would be very happy not to have certain “loyal” fans.


Okiegal Says:

I’m not a Novak fan, but do appreciate his prowess on the tennis court……but I think he is getting some unnecessary crap on this forum, imo!


Okiegal Says:

@Purcell

Uncle T. fired him up with 2 vamoses instead of just one! Lol It’s for sure there was no praying, for I believe I’ve read where Uncle T. doesn’t believe in a supreme being.

Puzzled by one thing you said…..how was Novak a hero…..just wondering??

#crampshurt
#asklebron


Michael Says:

Okiegal,

Well said !! Success has many companions, failure has none. Till Novak was a success, he was showered with rose petals and now he has failed, he is being hit with stones. That is cruel World for you. As you rightly said, Novak would not be too happy to have such (dis)loyal fans.


roy Says:

interesting comments about the fickle nature of novak’s fans.
it’s probably because a healthy portion are simply federer fan cross-overs using him as a battering ram against nadal.

the truth is that djoker has always been more inconsistent mentally.

nadal is the strongest mentally, and strangely is probably the least confident.
federer is next.
djoker/murray seem to be more emotionally unstable, even though they have improved.

consider in this match how djoker was leering at his box and talking to himself and being highly agitated for a large part of the match. and nadal was grimly focused.
it was a close match, djoker was right in it. but he was clearly more unstable.

and then consider nadal had just lost 4 matches to djoker. and the first set here … nadal’s mental strength is ridiculous.


Michael Says:

Roy,

Talking about the mental strength of Novak. Well in the fourth set, Nadal had a break after winning the third at 6-2. But still Novak didn’t give up and broke back. However, it is another thing he couldn’t sustain it. This just goes to show the never say die attitude of Novak who was also physically struggling on court, even vomiting at one point. I rate him mentally tougher than Roger and even Andy. But, when compared to Rafa it is a different proposition.


Okiegal Says:

@Michael

Appreciate you agreeing with me on this issue. I read Roy’s post below and maybe the fans are misplaced Fed fans, but none the less, lay off the guy please, he is a very successful player.

@Roy

……Rafa is the strongest mentally, and strangely is probably the least confident…..
I have thought this same thing so many times You are right, his mental strength is ridiculous!! Agree with your entire post!


Michael Says:

Okiegal,

Rafa is the strongest mentally, and strangely is
probably the least confident

This is an Oxymoron. If one is true, the other cannot be true.

I do not think his confidence can be measured by his off court interviews. Those interviews are like mere custom or ritual where players express their views and even go on to state some untruths and some of the things they really do not believe in the first place. Rafa always takes diligent care in his interviews not to appear discourteous to his opponents. He always regards them highly and lavish praises by not minding about as to whether they deserve it in the first place ? The soft nature of Rafa compels him to be ever gracious in his persona as well as opinions. So, you cannot take such opinion as guiding truths for his lack of confidence is my point.


Purcell Says:

Okiegal: I can’t believe you’ve misinterpreted the use of the word ‘pray’. Need I go on?
Novak was a hero (in the sporting sense, it’s only tennis for heaven’s sake) because he was ill but still managed to continue….read Michael’s post. Just remember how much worship Rafa got for continuing when he had a back twinge at AO. Double standards as usual. And Uncle Toni banging on about doctors/exhaustion. My boy suffered more than your boy etc. All we can do is wish all players well for the rest of the season, remembering that many have have had far worse issues to contend with than exhaustion.


Purcell Says:

Roy: all fans are fickle natured. Once their favourites begin to taste success they place ridiculous expectations on them and feel personally affronted if they then fail to live up to those expectations. One could argue that some people live their lives through their fandom and of course there are a variety of reasons for that.
I don’t need to take issue with you re your comments about Fed fans because it’s clear to all that, until the world stops turning, you’ll be abrasive about them and about Fed and continue to make yourself look like a biased fanboy.
Incidentally, choose your words carefully. Novak wasn’t leering at his box. He was making signs that he wasn’t well. And describing people as emotionally unstable, whether it’s in a tennis match or not, is inappropriate.


madmax Says:

Eric W. Says:
He has twice the shotmaking making ability, but half the heart, which is why Nole’s legacy will be as one of the biggest underachievers in tennis history. He’s nothing but Nadal’s sidekick, and trots out the same philosophical excuses after every big loss. “You know, that’s sport…” Perhaps if he won a final once in a while, he could bask in victory instead of pontificating on his predictable defeats?

June 8th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Why so damning Eric? Rafael played really well today, I would not say it was best and I would not say that Novak played his best either. In fact, overall I thought it was a match that was below the par of these two great champions.

Also, how can you say that Novak is the greatest underachiever in tennis? I really don’t understand that comment at all.

How can that be? There was a time, not too long ago that Rafa lost 7 finals in a row to Novak. So whilst you are enjoying this monumental victory, (and it is), don’t forget that Rafa too, was in a position of underachiever against Novak.

It’s silly though to bring things like this up.

Rafa won a victory that I Think most people thought he would. Even now, he is saying that his Health is great, and then on the other hand, depending on the day, he contradicts himself.

It’s important that his victory is celebrated and not to undermine Novak in this, who played his part in the tournament and part of Rafa’s Life too.


madmax Says:

Purcell Says:
Okiegal: I can’t believe you’ve misinterpreted the use of the word ‘pray’. Need I go on?
Novak was a hero (in the sporting sense, it’s only tennis for heaven’s sake) because he was ill but still managed to continue….read Michael’s post. Just remember how much worship Rafa got for continuing when he had a back twinge at AO. Double standards as usual. And Uncle Toni banging on about doctors/exhaustion. My boy suffered more than your boy etc. All we can do is wish all players well for the rest of the season, remembering that many have have had far worse issues to contend with than exhaustion.

June 9th, 2014 at 4:20 am

Purcell,

Exactly. Where would WE all be without these players in our lives, eh? :)


Okiegal Says:

@Purcell

Thanks for explaining that further. My mistake….I did misinterpret your post, sorry. I think both of them were clearly exhausted. I don’t know who was ailing worse…..maybe we have two heroes!

If you have read my other posts, I am defending Novak. I think he has gotten too much heat for his loss.

@Michael

I’m the moron (oxy) on here for even posting on this forum. I will read a long post and by the time I have read the last sentence, I have lost focus on what was said in the first sentence! LOL
I am not reading carefully enough…..I will try to do better. I said I agreed with Roy’s entire post, read it over and I don’t think for one minute that Novak is unstable. He just got nervous at some important moments and it cost him. All the players have had that happen to them at some point…..doesn’t make them unstable, just makes them human.

Yes, Rafa is always very gracious about his opponents and doesn’t ever want to come off as sounding arrogant. His confidence gets shaken from time to time. He admits to getting nervous which makes him human.


Gordon Says:

Er… blog writers? You guys who steer this ship?

Grass season is underway.

Halle. Birmingham. London.

Can we get some posts so we can forget Nole’s last double fault and look ahead to the lead up to Wimbledon?

Even though he is exhausted, Nadal is going to be at the Gerry Weber tournament on Wednesday to get his grass act together; we can’t have another Steve Darcis type upset at Wimbledon now can we?

Really – in Halle we should see Nishikori against Federer in one semi final and Nadal against Raonic in the other; anything less would be a bit shocking, no?

Oh and administrators – while you are catching up, update the funk/trunk bit on the home page; it’s downright silly right now.


Gordon Says:

Okay, the trunk-funk thing is not that bad; switch Serena and Rafa, and drop Djokovic and insert Sharapova and it looks a whole lot better.

And you don’t have to make predictions on the tourneys. Just give us some facts to chew on.

We miss you guys (assuming Staff is a guy). 😛


Okiegal Says:

ummm…….under moderation again. May I ask why??


Okiegal Says:

^^^^The last one went through but not the one at 8:53. I worked hard on that one…..responding to other posters. Please post. Thank you!


Eric W. Says:

@madmax: I’m definitely not basking in Nadal’s victory, rather I’m depressed by Novak’s defeat, as he’s my favourite player and the only one I’ve rooted for since he burst on the scene in 2007. I believe he’s the most talented player on tour, by a considerable margin, and 6 GS titles versus 7 GS final defeats doesn’t make sense to me relative to his potential. And it’s agonizing to watch him go from total domination in 2011 to spiraling into regular defeats at the final stage (losing 4 of the last GS finals). For me, that qualifies as underachieving. My fear is that the losing causes him to quit tennis altogether, a la Borg at 26, which would be a shame for tennis, and I’d love to see him turn it around. A good first step would be to drop Becker and hire Lendl, and learn about mental toughness from someone who got the maximum results from the talent he possessed.


ChrisB Says:

It’s not a “royal we” @Purcell! Toni talks about Tafa’s entire team not just himself!


M Says:

@Eric – Novak is not going to quit. Didn’t you hear him say he would come back and come back? In French?

Take into account also that both he and Rafa had a very tough clay season. Neither were feeling well (as NBC demonstrated for us in rather nauseating detail).

Also, he seems to take a lot of pride in & responsibility for generating awareness for Serbia’s tragedies. And he is going to be a dad very soon. I submit those things will motivate him more, not less.

His 2011 season was kind of superhuman. No one can do that every year, not even Roger. Rafa fans waited seven months for our guy to come back. Every top player has his season.

#DREAMIN9
#VAMOS


Okiegal Says:

@Eric W.

You are coming down too hard on your guy…..an underachiever……that’s a pretty harsh statement about your favorite. He has won too much be called that, imo! Lighten up. Don’t kick him while he’s down…..he is an amazing athlete….btw, I’m a Rafa fan going to bat for him.


Okiegal Says:

@M

Good post at 6:17……agree 100%. These guys give so much to their craft……there are lots of peaks and valleys in all their careers…..and we fans hate those valleys, but we sometime forget that they are not super human.


Susan Says:

Uncle Toni said it that Nadal was exhuasted. Than how come Nadal practices on grass Monday next day after final? Nadal cant be much tired. He is in Halle evvent.


Okiegal Says:

I am sure he went to see a Doctor and was hydrated with fluids loaded with potassium and triglycerides by means of an IV


Okiegal Says:

oops, not done. An IV would fix him right up and he would be ready for another tournament. His team knows what to do to keep him ready. Hydration is an easy fix……..ailing back and knees, not so much.

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