Rafael Nadal is a warrior on the tennis court. Right from the moment he made his professional debut on the tour, he has shown that he can overcome all odds to prevail over his opponents. Take the example of this season. At the Australian Open, he came back from two sets down in the final against Daniil Medvede to lift the title. Further, in the Wimbledon Championships earlier this month, he played with an abdominal injury during his quarterfinal match against Taylor Fritz.
Nadal’s uncle, Ton, played a massive role during his early days in tennis. The Spanish legend has described how his uncle helped to instill this never-say-die attitude in him.
Rafael Nadal heaps praise on his uncle Toni
In his book, Rafa: My Story, the 22-time Grand Slam champion, talked about how his uncle coached him during his youth days. He said, “So there was fun and magic in my relationship with Toni, even if the prevailing mood when we trained was stony and severe. And we had plenty of success. If he hadn’t made me play without water that day, if he hadn’t singled me out for especially harsh treatment when I was in that group of little kids learning the game, if I hadn’t as I did at the injustice and abuse he heaped on me, maybe I would not be the player I am today.”
Further, Nadal added, “He always stressed the importance of endurance. “Endure, put up with whatever comes your way, learn to overcome weakness and pain, push yourself to breaking point but never cave in. If you don’t learn that lesson, you’ll never succeed as an elite athlete”: that was what he taught me.”
Further, opening up about his rage, Nadal said, “Often I’d struggle to contain my rage. “Why is it me and not the other boys who have to sweep the court after training?” I’d ask myself. “Why do I have to pick up more balls than the others? Why does he scream at me that way when I hit the ball out?” But I learned to internalize that anger too, not to fret at the injustice, to accept it and get on with it.”
Taking positives out of it, he said, “Yes, he might have gone too far, but it’s worked very well for me. All that tension in every single coaching session, right from the very start, has allowed me today to face up to the difficult moments in a match with more self-control than might otherwise have been the case. Toni did a lot to build that fighting character people say they see in me on court.” Nadal will be making a comeback after his Wimbledon setback at the Canadian Open. The ATP 1000 tournament commences on August 7.