Toni Nadal on Rafa’s “punished body” : “He can win Roland-Garros this year and then we’ll see”

Rafael Nadal’s uncle and long-time former coach believes his nephew has at least one last hurrah in him this summer

Toni Nadal 2021 Imago / Panoramic

Rafael Nadal is already tired of answering questions about how much longer he might want to put his mind and body through the ringer in the quest for Grand Slam titles.

The hip injury he suffered at the Australian Open means Nadal will be out of action for up to eight weeks, making him almost certain to miss the Indian Wells-Miami swing, and meaning he is likely to return on the clay in April.

At 36, with his 37th birthday to come in June, Nadal knows his time at the top is coming towards its end but with Novak Djokovic having equalled him with his 22nd Grand Slam title by winning the Australian Open, Nadal will be desperate to win a record 15th Roland-Garros this summer.

In an interview with the Spanish version of Vanity Fair, his uncle and long-time coach Toni Nadal admits that injuries are beginning to take their toll, but says he hopes another Paris win is possible.

“When one has been there for so many years, as is the case with him, and after having had so many problems in the last year, where he ended up too injured, I don’t consider the future beyond the next tournament,” Toni Nadal said. 

“You never really know how things are going to go. It is true that Rafael has a very punished body, but it is also true that he has been on the professional circuit since he was 16 years old and that is something you pay for. 

“There are many years hitting the ball and moving at high intensity. When you have that, it is easy for the body to fail here today and there tomorrow. I trust that he can lift the Roland Garros trophy this year, and then we’ll see.”

Toni Nadal, who now coaches Felix Auger-Aliassime, also said he thought Djokovic will be favourite to win again at Wimbledon, where victory would put him alongside Roger Federer on eight titles there.

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