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Toni Nadal: Rafa’s Return Better Than We Expected

“It’s true that we have to see it in more difficult matches, but at the moment things are going better than we expected,” Toni Nadal said of Rafael Nadal’s comeback.

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, January 4, 2024
Toni Nadal has long been one of Rafael Nadal’s staunchest supporters—and toughest critics.

Toni Nadal, uncle and original coach of Rafael Nadal, says Team Nadal is excited by the king of clay’s level of play.

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Speaking to Onda Cero Mallorca in this interview, Toni Nadal says the 22-time Grand Slam champion has exceeded expectations scoring his opening-round win over Dominic Thiem and a crushing conquest of Aussie wild card Jason Kubler, 6-1, 6-2.

A fierce Nadal steamrolled Kubler winning nine of 11 points played on the Aussie’s second serve and breaking four times in an 84-minute victory.

Toni Nadal says he’s pleased with Rafa’s performance and is intrigued to see how he will respond against higher-ranked opposition in both Brisbane and Melbourne.

“The truth is that Rafa can be very happy and excited because his level is good enough,” Toni Nadal told Onda Cero Mallorca. “It’s true that we have to see it in more difficult matches, but at the moment things are going better than we expected.

“Rafa has always had the condition of coming back by getting back into form quickly. This time it’s more difficult and we’ll see if he can continue like this.”


A post shared by Rafa Nadal (@rafaelnadal)

The former world No. 1 reports his body, particularly his surgically-repaired hip, feels good. Rafael Nadal said accumulating more match play before the Australian Open is important because it enables him to sharpen his strokes and point-by-point concentration.

“I think today, not talking only about today’s match, today in general terms, every day is a learning again, no?” Nadal told the media in Brisbane. “I need to play every single point focus. I try to do it because doesn’t matter the result, is something I need to keep doing, learn again how to play every single point focus and with the right intensity. In the end is something that you lose.

“You need to get used to the competition again and to understand the moments of the match to know when you have to push, know when you can play a little bit more relax.

“Is something that today I’m not able to do it, no? I need to play every single point very focus. That’s the thing that I need to do now, is practice that. Of course, wins helps to be more self-confident and to spend more hours on court.”


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If two-time Australian Open champion Nadal can continue to improve in Brisbane and receives a favorable draw in Melbourne, then uncle Toni Nadal believes Rafa can do damage at the Australian Open, which starts on January 14th.

“I think if in Brisbane he can play more matches competing with players with more qualified players and in Australia the draw favors him, as he is not seeded, I think it will be possible to see him having a good tournament,” Toni Nadal said.
“I think Rafa will take it day by day and depending on how things go and how competitive he looks, even though he has said that it is his last year, we will almost certainly see.”

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

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