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.”
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