Toni Nadal: Nerves getting to Rafa


Originally published on: 06/10/11 10:00

Novak Djokovic may have attained superhuman heights this season but after seeing the Serb prevail in six straight finals with Rafael Nadal in 2011, Toni Nadal admits his nephew is getting too nervous in their encounters.

The life-long coach of the world No.2 told El Mundo that, while the Belgrade native has undoubtedly raised his level this year, he is hopeful his nephew can banish the demons in his head and put defeats to Djokovic in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome, Wimbledon and New York behind him.

“It is clear that there have been too many losses and it is true that Rafael has become nervous in their recent matches and so far, there is the reality that Djokovic is playing superior to the rest,” said Toni.

“I hope it does not last forever. Rafael’s type of game has worked well against Djokovic and has been very spirited. We must return to make a change. Not [in] his game, but of mentality and try to win again.”

The Spaniard dominated the vast majority of their encounters before this season and still holds a 16-13 winning advantage in their 29 career clashes to date.

And while Toni has become increasingly concerned by Djokovic’s dominance this year, he admitted to being pleased with Rafa’s performance in certain parts of the US Open final, believing his charge is on the right track toward reining the Serb back in.

“What I saw at the end [of the Flushing Meadows showpiece] is that Rafael, despite the nerves that gripped him in the first two sets, had a good reaction in the third, went to fight and [try to] beat him,” added Toni. “This gives me a certain hope.”


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.