Uncle Toni: Rafa’s Back Should Be Fine, But The Crowd Should Not Have Booed Him
by Tom Gainey | January 28th, 2014, 9:43 am

Rafael Nadal’s coach, Uncle Toni, hit out at the crowd for booing his nephew during the men’s Australian Open final on Sunday.

After injuring his back, Nadal left the court for some 7 minutes down 21 in the second set. Upon returning the 2009 champion and world No. 1 was greeted with a cascade of boos.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, Uncle Toni wasn’t pleased:

“I don’t think the crowd should be doing this,” Toni Nadal said. “Rafael has always given his best at this tournament, all tournaments. He knows that people have paid money for tickets to be here for the match, the grand slam final. He does not want them to have, how do I say, the stopped show.
“The crowd did not know what was happening. I see this. But I think if you do not know something for sure, why say anything? Rafael enjoys this tournament, he enjoys this crowd, he loves Rod Laver court. There are good memories here. But I wish people knew what Rafael was trying to do. Sometimes the crowd don’t think, maybe.”

During his presser, Nadal wasn’t as upset.

“Sometimes is tough for the crowd to understand,” Nadal said. “The crowd, only thing wants to do is enjoy great match. They paid ticket to watch the best match possible, and I was not able to offer that to them for moments.

“I wanted to try my best until the end. But I can understand very well the reaction. They understand later that I was bad. I was trying all what I can try on the court with that situation,” he added. “You never will heard me talk badly about the crowd here.”

Uncle Toni also told Cadena Ser’s El Larguero that Rafa’s back should be fine.

“The doctor said it’s a tightening of the muscles and a few days rest should be enough,” said Toni. “He went into the match after feeling twinges during the week but very minor ones that normally do not affect you at all.

“In the second game of the second set he felt a pinch. When I asked him after treatment what was happening he said ‘it’s over’.”

Uncle Toni said Rafa is still expected to play in Buenos Aires on February 10.

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33 Comments for Uncle Toni: Rafa’s Back Should Be Fine, But The Crowd Should Not Have Booed Him

Brando Says:

Of course the crowd should not have booed him. It’s typical of the age we live in that sadly a few have to ruin things for the large majority.

After that ill thought of moment, as soon as the naive realized like the rest of Rafa’s plight they backed him.

And in the presentation ceremony we all saw what the crowd and everyone thought of Rafa.

A unfortunate moment but a minor one ultimately in comparison to overwhelming love Rafa experienced post it.

gonzalowski Says:

Totally agree with Toni Nadal; as I said during the match, some people from the crowd acted like hicks.

metan Says:

Hey, good news Rafa still can play for the next tour. I am so happy for him!!!!:-)

hawkeye Says:

Great quotes from Uncle T:

T.M.: At the start of his career, a lot of people said: “his game is too intense, it won’t last…”
Toni: (interrupts) But a lot of people talk without understanding what they’re talking about.

T.M.: Does it make you sad that people talk more about his physique and his mental ability than about his technique and his talent?
Toni: Today, people want to talk about everything but without going deeper into the matter. You need to look at things more carefully and with more objectivity. Certain people have said that Rafa doesn’t have a very good technique. But what is that, technique? Is it hitting the ball very hard and with a beautiful movement but once out of every two hits, it lands outside the court? Is it to have a very good forehand, a very good serve but no backhand? No. For me, technique is about being able to place the ball wherever you want it to land with no matter what shot.This is what Rafa can do. So, perhaps he doesn’t have the same technique as Federer, but he does have an excellent technique. A good forehand, a good backhand that he can slice, a correct volley…He has a hand that allows him to do a lot of things.

In sports, it’s good to cheer for somebody’s victory but it’s not normal to wish defeat on somebody else. I’ve often repeated it to my nephew, who is a keen supporter of Real Madrid as you know, that I understand that he wants Real to win but I always told him that he should not wish defeat on Barcelona. I know that a lot of fans are like that but I think it’s a rather dumb way of going about it. Anyway, we’re not brought up like that in our family, that’s not what we’ve been taught.

Preach it Uncle T. Dumb indeed.

Vamos Rafa!

Thanda Says:

The voice of the crowd is very important for the players. They should not boo Nada who was trying his best. These people are really hicks. They do not think about others, they do not think about themselves.

Giles Says:

Bravo Uncle Toni. A knowledgeable man and the greatest coach out there. You have taught your nephew well.
#Vamos Rafa!
#Vamos Uncle T
#The Greatest Team!

skeezer Says:

Glad to see his back is ok. Didn’t look that bad to begin with…..

RZ Says:

I wish the tennis tour would add some simple rules to make situations like this more fan-friendly, such as having the chair ump announce that Player X is being taken off the court for the medical team to see to whatever injury. That little bit of info would go a long way to helping the fans know what’s going on (and making them less likely to boo a player)

Giles Says:

Rafa a d his team need to keep a watchful eye on his back.

Giles Says:

RZ. I entirely agree. It certainly would save a whole lot of embarrassment.

Truthsquad Says:

Well it’s good that uncle Toni and Rafa have confirmed what many of us suspected from the start … That the back was not seriously Injured and the MTO was perhaps a little too strategically placed? While I think Nadal is a great player – he has developed a reputation for being thin skinned and defensive over his injury excuses… But he can’t have it both ways… Can’t be ” humble” Rafa and also play the ” nobody beats a healthy Rafa” card at the same time. Rafa is a great player with a career and accomplishments to be proud of, but even he gets outplayed on occasion and it’s childish to blame the ” surface.. Schedule… Officiating….knees… Back…etc”.

didi Says:

Could he think that maybe people realize that very frequently Nadal is losing a match he takes a timeout.. people don’t like this gamesmanship and its a pattern.

Jack Lewis Says:

While Rafa would never speak hill of the crowd you can count on his classless uncle to do it.
Crowds are crowds, they are dumb by definition. You have people cheer double faults for god’s sake.
Then again this uncle’s behavior and comments might even be unfairly part of why Nadal gets booed.

Okiegal Says:

No, he got booed because selfish people had bought tickets, they didn’t care whether he was injured or not. Spent mega bucks on fare and they want to see a show and Rafa was disappointed he wasn’t able to give them one…..IMO. I had wondered what Rafa said to Uncle T on the court and I guess it was “It’s over”……..and it was.


Peter Says:

IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME RAFA’S been involved in match tactics and gamesmanship. Good he got booed, i hope he learns!

A Tango Lad Says:

As a fan of Roger, I prefer to value his achievements in a positive manner rather than try to diminish the achievements of his greatest rival and colleague.

Ironically, it demeans Roger’s career when some of his so called fans feel they need to prop him up further when his unrivalled legacy stands on its own.

To each his own.

Hopp Roger!

Okiegal Says:

Name one who hasn’t been involved in gamesmanship
Federer admitted that one time the sun was in a wrong position that didn’t favor his serve. He took a bathroom break and when he got back on court the sun had moved a little and Fed went about his business. Don’t single Rafa out, they all have been guilty of it. I’m not agreeing he did that in the AO final by any means.

Vamos Rafa, get healthy!!

Michael Says:

With a set and a break up in Stan’s possession, the Crowd got a sense that Rafa was trying to break Stan’s momentum by taking that break. They cannot be blamed for it for it happened extempore. But only when Rafa returned and experienced difficulty in serving, the Crowd realized their folly and the seriousness of the ailment. All said and done, the crowd could have been more considerate and courteous to a Champion.

Hippy Chic Says:

A Tango Lad nice post,its not enough that Roger is regarded as the greatest,some of his fans are not happy unless they are tearing his biggest rival apart,Rafa was injured it was clear for all too see,it shouldnt and doesnt take anything away from Stans win,but to suggest he was faking is ridiculous IMO,i have to ask why would he?and to what ends?another AO and a 2nd career GS and making more history was on the cards?

Steve 27 Says:

People wants “blood” all the time, they prefer epic matches even if one player is not in his 100% condition. By the way, in Wimbledon and UO 2011, Rafa was two sets down against Djokovic. Did he used MTO that times?. No, why this time?

Hippy Chic Says:

Many say Rafa only takes a MTO when he is losing,when in actual fact he took one when he was a set and a break up against Delpo at Wimbledon in 2011,and again i must ask what about Delpos antics against Bautista Agut,an 8 minute toilet break,bending down to tie his shoe laces when the latter was about to serve,yet not one mention of this at the time,all simply swept under the carpet??

kriyuk Says:

Wow, preaching Uncle Toni.. how about his side coaching while Nadal play.. this guy is unbelievable, full of sh1t. he tought his nephew to delay the play, fake MTO, skid shoe to make noise while opponent serves, incredible. He still can preach us to respect the game and player. Wow wow wow…

Nirmal Kumar Says:

Based on Toni’s comment, looks like Rafa started the match Ok (minor niggle) but had issue only in the 2nd set. This gives a different picture compared to what Rafa told in the press.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

Curious to know what Toni would do after Rafa’s retirement. Would he also retire as coach or would work with spanish players or would be open for all the other player. Would be interesting to see how he does it after Rafa’s retirement. He seems to be very smart person.

Okiegal Says:


Two great post, as always Rafa does this and this and gets lambasted. All I ask is for fairness, that’s all. Give all players due respect. What these guys do day in and day out is amazing. They’re all guilty of being coached, gamesmanship, etc. If people couldn’t tell that Rafa was in pain…..Well imo they’re pretty stupid. I knew too that there were times Rafa would have lost the first two sets and made a comeback and hadn’t taken MTOS. I was gonna look that up thanks for doing it for me!!

Stan played 2 great weeks of tennis. Congrats to him. As Rafa said, he was deserving…….because he knows how hard it is to get past Novak.

Hope his back is not serious and he’ll be back stronger.


Giles Says:

I think Toni is coaching his kids now as well as Rafa so he might just concentrate on them after Rafa’s career is over which I hope will not be for a long time.

cp123 Says:

Does anybody have the statistics about how often a MTO is called when a player is winning versus losing? The perception is that MTOs are used to stop momentum so I think it is understandable when Rafa left at this point without any previous indication of injury for the crowd to be suspicious. Maybe they do not need to boo, but is it valid to be suspicious.

Hippy Chic Says:

Thanks Okiegal like you i hate the double standards that go on here.

Okiegal Says:



Okiegal Says:

@cp 123

I’ll bet an anti Rafa fan can come up with that stat for you. I remember a couple of times when Rafa was two sets up and asked for a MTO, the faking logic doesn’t add up……people want to look for anything to undermine Rafa’s success, IMO, especially against Roger.

Okiegal Says:

@cp 123

Read your post over again, read it wrong. In my response I should have said a Rafa fan. I first read it…….losing over winning…My eyes darted over that comment too fast..missed the whole point…..sorry!

One more thing, watching on TV they show the closer up shots on their faces, you could clearly see the disappointment was there for Rafa. Maybe the crowd had a legitimate reason for being suspicious, but they should have got the message after seeing his slow slow serve……just saying. Of course, to late to take back the boos. I still think boos are uncalled for in a match period. Rafa was as disappointed as anyone because he wasn’t able to give his all, and if spectators couldn’t see that, well, they’re blinded by their own selfish reasons, IMHO.

malher Says:

He got booooed because crowd know was fake

Okiegal Says:

He got booed and then then 5 minutes later they were cheering for him, fickle tennis fans. They wanted to see a five setter, didn’t care if Rafa was in pain or not. They wanted a show, and Rafa was very disappointed in himself because he wasn’t able to deliver. Press tried to get him to downplay the crowd, but he had nothing but praise for the Australians.

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