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Toni Nadal’s New ‘Problem’: Teaching Felix Auger-Aliassime


Toni Nadal is again on the ATP Tour with Felix Auger-Aliassime. The No. 22 within the FedEx ATP Rating, his coach Frederic Fontang and Toni himself made the announcement throughout a Zoom dialog on Thursday with journalists. “We’re calling you to announce that I’ll be working with Toni Nadal, ranging from this event [Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters],” revealed the Canadian earlier than answering some questions.

“We had the prospect to work additionally along with him and Fred, and the remainder of my staff in Mallorca in December. However formally we’re beginning our relationship and our partnership. Thus far it’s been going very well,” added Auger-Aliassime, who shall be enjoying his first clay match of the 12 months in Monte-Carlo.

ATP Tour.com caught up with Nadal and Auger-Aliassime forward of Monte-Carlo to debate their new partnership and expectations – in addition to what would occur ought to the Canadian tackle Rafael Nadal.

Why did you determine so as to add Toni Nadal to your staff?
Felix Auger-Aliassime: On the finish of final 12 months, I sat down with Fred, the remainder of my staff, my mother and father… I informed myself that it will be good to go to any person who has been on the highest degree of our sport. Somebody who has been to the place I wish to go at some point. We approached Toni with the likelihood to come back to Mallorca to fulfill him, to coach and to debate, so we did.

And what satisfied you to tackle the problem of teaching Felix?
Toni Nadal: I’d already had a chat with him fairly some time in the past and he left an excellent impression on me. Additionally by means of my nephew, everybody has at all times had good issues to say about him. When the concept of working collectively was put to me, I informed him to come back to the Academy in 10 days in order that we may get to know one another and to see whether or not what I needed to say to him could be of use.

And also you determined to attempt it out…
Nadal: I’m nonetheless the director of the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, and naturally I’ve labored with my nephew – I’m his uncle and I hadn’t thought-about being with one other participant. Understanding that I’ve the prospect as director of the Academy to work with a participant with big potential is a problem to me and, specifically, it provides me satisfaction. It’s a problem for everybody.

How have the primary days of teaching gone?
Auger-Aliassime: From the primary follow, the work was nice. The very first thing is the respect, the honesty and the belief. For me, [those] are crucial values that Toni tries to carry to the desk. It matches and works with which I imagine in. For me, they’re easy issues, however easy issues that aren’t at all times simple to do. However are crucial.

The consistency of my work, the precision of my work, the depth that I’m gonna put and if I can repeat that at a really excessive degree, I imagine good issues may occur. The good phrases that Toni has informed me from the primary time we had been along with him and with Fred and I believe it brings nice issues to me. I actually like him as an individual, in order that’s an excellent factor.

What was probably the most notable factor for you?
Nadal: I wouldn’t have the ability to work with somebody who wasn’t respectful, who had no values, as a result of I’ve been fortunate sufficient to work for my total life with a boy who has at all times been respectful and has earned himself an excellent identify. I aspire to that. I used to be delighted the second they put the concept to me. Let’s not beat concerning the bush, it is a child who theoretically must be among the many greatest on this planet in years to come back. It’s at all times good to work with somebody like that.

How will you’re employed collectively?
Auger-Aliassime: Toni shall be on the foremost tournaments, the Grand Slams and a few different massive tournaments on the calendar. He’s giving recommendation, expertise, however simply engaged on the day-to-day to turn out to be a greater participant. It’s not like there’s a secret device or a single recipe the place you click on your fingers and issues work. However we’re at first of working collectively and constructing one thing stable and neat changing into a greater participant general. I believe that’s what I wish to do to succeed in the best ranges of tennis.

Do you keep in mind the primary time you noticed Felix play?
Nadal: After I noticed him play for the primary time, we mentioned to Rafael ‘this child goes to be superb’. And I believe that he ought to aspire to that. He left me with a sense that he was an excellent participant. I noticed him in a Challenger occasion towards Jaume Munar, a participant from our Academy, and I assumed, ‘What a participant!’ He was 16, however you possibly can already see that he could be top-of-the-line on this planet. Now he has to work to verify it and to turn out to be that.

The competitors is hard.
Nadal: For the time being we’re in an period of tennis with some superb gamers. Felix must compete within the coming years with gamers like [Daniil] Medvedev, [Alexander] Zverev, [Dominic] Thiem, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, and different gamers coming by means of like [Jannik] Sinner and I suppose [Carlos] Alcaraz too. The competitors shall be powerful, however I imagine he’ll be there.

The scenario you’re describing is much like what Rafael went by means of when he was beginning out.
Nadal:
Sure, it was a troublesome panorama with plenty of younger high quality gamers reminiscent of [Roger] Federer, [Andy] Roddick, [Lleyton] Hewitt, [Guillermo] Coria, [David] Nalbandian, [Juan Carlos] Ferrero, [Marat] Safin… They had been all younger and it seemed like it will be very tough to be on the high. We knew that we needed to put together with a view to compete with gamers like that. I imagine Felix has to do the identical.

Having received virtually every thing as Rafael’s coach, why have you ever determined to return to the Tour?
Nadal: I’ve at all times favored tennis. I’m motivated by the method of attempting to progress at what you get pleasure from, and I’m motivated by figuring out that I’m working with an excellent particular person, with a participant with nice potential. That’s the problem. I’m delighted on a private {and professional} degree to have the ability to work with an individual like him and with a staff as nice as his.

What is going to occur when Felix has to face Rafael?
Nadal: I’m Rafael Nadal’s uncle and director of his Academy. However, above all, I’ve a particular affection for my nephew. If he has to lose to somebody, then let it’s Felix. Forgetting that I’m his uncle, I’ve been linked to him for a few years and the day they ultimately play, I received’t be in both field out of respect to them each.

I’m very all in favour of Felix doing in addition to doable and hopefully sooner or later he may be World No. 1. I’m in little doubt. For the time being he has to enhance, and I’m nonetheless Rafael’s uncle.