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Toni Nadal recounts “shocking” loss for Rafael that led Spaniard to become best on clay

Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of World No.2 Rafael Nadal during a training session a few years back.
Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of World No.2 Rafael Nadal during a training session a few years back. (Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal’s hopes of a straight fifth title-win at the French Open suffered a major shock in 2009

Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of Rafael Nadal, recounted that the 2009 loss to Robin Soderling as the most shocking result in his nephew’s career.

According to Toni, the defeat to Soderling in the fourth round of the 2009 French Open pushed Nadal to become the best on clay.

A four-time winner, Nadal was sent crashing out of the tournament 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2), denying the Spaniard a straight-fifth win at the clay-court event in Paris.

Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of World No.2 Rafael Nadal during a training session a few years back.
Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of World No.2 Rafael Nadal during a training session a few years back. (Getty Images)

“His victory in 2010 was also very important. It had so much emotional impact like the first one because Rafael had lost to Soderling the year before. It was a shocking defeat for us as Rafael was looking for his fifth title in Paris,” Toni Nadal said during an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The first thing my nephew in the locker room told me was: ‘next year’s goal is to be the best on clay again. ‘And so, he did. In 2017 he came after two years without winning and lifted the title to return to the circuit.”

Spanish player Rafael Nadal (left) leaves the court after his fourth round loss to Swede Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open.
Spanish player Rafael Nadal (left) leaves the court after his fourth round loss to Swede Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open. (Getty Images)

Toni also added that from all Nadal’s 12 wins at the French Open, his first-ever victory in 2005 was the most coveted one for him.

“It has been a very strange period”

The 59-year-old who helped Nadal win 16 of his 19 Grand Slam titles recounted how he and his nephew spent the days in confinement due to the coronavirus.

Toni also expressed his concerns for the boys, who were spending their time under quarantine at the Rafa Nadal Academy until a few days ago.

Rafael Nadal with his uncle Toni
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal training under the watchful eyes of his uncle and coach Toni Nadal, back in 2017. (Getty Images)

“It has been a very strange period, with everything that is happening in the world. I have not spoken with Rafael about the break. We have spoken more about the Academy and the children who were confined there,” he recollected.

Toni added that his nephew was more concerned about the children as they had to spend weeks at the academy with maximum security and being away from their families.

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