Is Uncle Toni one the best tactical coach's

Mr Topspin

Semi-Pro
Rafa's uncle and coach Toni does not get enough credit but what he has achieved with Rafa is unbelievable.

He guided Rafa to clay court dominance early on in Rafa's career. Then helped Rafa develop a solid grass court game. What ever Rafa's detractors say Rafa does change many aspects of his grass court game in relation to his position on the baseline, his hit point on return of serve and the way he flattens out his shots on the grass. Josh Goodall, the tennis analyst in Britain has done numerous comparisons on the changes Rafa makes from Clay to grass on the BBC during the Wimbledon fortnight. (A google on Goodall and Rafa will show the data).

While today's grass may be slower and high bouncing it is still vastly different to clay and bounces much lower and has far more bad bounces than any other surface. I believe Coach Toni's influence and tactics have helped change an essentially clay court specialist into a multi surface winner with his guidance.

Next, if we look at the players Rafa struggled against early on, we see guys like Blake, Nalbandian, Berdych and Soderling. Yet Uncle Toni helped Rafa turn those trends around. Rafa has dominated all those guys with slight changes to his tactics.

One firm example is Murray. Murray won the last two grand slam meetings aginst Rafa in a dominant fashion and yet on grass despite serving exceptionally well, Murray lost in straights aginst Rafa. This was because Coach Toni wrote a perfect playbook for Rafa on how to neutrailse Murray. Therefore, Rafa hit alot of slices to the Murray forehand, he hit a lot more up the middle forcing Murray to create his own angles and his own pace. Murray prefers to redirect power not creating his own and thus struggled to hurt Rafa off the ground on a consistent basis.

Rafa employed the same tactic against Giles Simon in 09 when he won the OZ open. Once again Simon had beaten Rafa in their prior meeting and Coach Toni drafted the perfect strategy.

And further proof of Coach Toni's foresight and strategy were evidenced when Rafa's clay court game was changed further in response to the Soderling defeat last year. The response was a change in strings which resulted in less spin and more depth in Rafa's shots. This is fundamental change to Rafa's game as his huge topspin is what has contributed to his prowess on the clay and yet the change in strings to a more aggressive game in order to keep big hitters like Soderling pinned to the baseline.

Mats Willander commented on this change in Rafa and said it was a testament to Rafa's coaching team that the four time champion at RG was still prepared to make changes in order to continously improve his game.

And the result was fantastic. Rafa straight setted Soderling at the RG final and beat him in 4 sets at Wimbledon with the subtle changes made to the Rafa game in the last six months.

Therefore, is Coach Toni the best coach going today?
 

Bud

Bionic Poster
Rafa's uncle and coach Toni does not get enough credit but what he has achieved with Rafa is unbelievable.

He guided Rafa to clay court dominance early on in Rafa's career. Then helped Rafa develop a solid grass court game. What ever Rafa's detractors say Rafa does change many aspects of his grass court game in relation to his position on the baseline, his hit point on return of serve and the way he flattens out his shots on the grass. Josh Goodall, the tennis analyst in Britain has done numerous comparisons on the changes Rafa makes from Clay to grass on the BBC during the Wimbledon fortnight. (A google on Goodall and Rafa will show the data).

While today's grass may be slower and high bouncing it is still vastly different to clay and bounces much lower and has far more bad bounces than any other surface. I believe Coach Toni's influence and tactics have helped change an essentially clay court specialist into a multi surface winner with his guidance.

Next, if we look at the players Rafa struggled against early on, we see guys like Blake, Nalbandian, Berdych and Soderling. Yet Uncle Toni helped Rafa turn those trends around. Rafa has dominated all those guys with slight changes to his tactics.

One firm example is Murray. Murray won the last two grand slam meetings aginst Rafa in a dominant fashion and yet on grass despite serving exceptionally well, Murray lost in straights aginst Rafa. This was because Coach Toni wrote a perfect playbook for Rafa on how to neutrailse Murray. Therefore, Rafa hit alot of slices to the Murray forehand, he hit a lot more up the middle forcing Murray to create his own angles and his own pace. Murray prefers to redirect power not creating his own and thus struggled to hurt Rafa off the ground on a consistent basis.

Rafa employed the same tactic against Giles Simon in 09 when he won the OZ open. Once again Simon had beaten Rafa in their prior meeting and Coach Toni drafted the perfect strategy.

And further proof of Coach Toni's foresight and strategy were evidenced when Rafa's clay court game was changed further in response to the Soderling defeat last year. The response was a change in strings which resulted in less spin and more depth in Rafa's shots. This is fundamental change to Rafa's game as his huge topspin is what has contributed to his prowess on the clay and yet the change in strings to a more aggressive game in order to keep big hitters like Soderling pinned to the baseline.

Mats Willander commented on this change in Rafa and said it was a testament to Rafa's coaching team that the four time champion at RG was still prepared to make changes in order to continously improve his game.

And the result was fantastic. Rafa straight setted Soderling at the RG final and beat him in 4 sets at Wimbledon with the subtle changes made to the Rafa game in the last six months.

Therefore, is Coach Toni the best coach going today?
Excellent, insightful post! I stated in another thread that Nadal appears to 'evolve' as conditions change. I believe Toni is the driving force behind that evolution.
 

forthegame

Hall of Fame
I've wondered about Toni himself. Wasn't he a footballer? How did he become sucha a good tennis coach? Been thinking about that a lot lately....
 

LeoR

Banned
I agree that Toni Nadal has a part in Nadal's success and in him being one of the best in strategy.

However, you are giving too much credits for the Soderling part. Nadal was always destroying Soderling once he was fit. It had nothing to do with new tactics or change.

Nadal lost because he was injured and could not play to his level. Without any change and being healthy, he would still have owned Soderling badly as soon as he was fit.
 
Uncle Toni

Uncle Toni was actually an excellent tennis player. Jon Wertheim (sp?) of Sports Illustrated mentioned that Uncle Toni was on the level of being an excellent college level player.

Apparently, Uncle Toni had too many life interests to devote himself to just one thing, and that's why he didn't become a top pro. I believe that Jon mentioned that Uncle Toni was somewhere in the top 30 players among Spain at his peak.

He seems like a fascinating man. You can read more about him in Jon's book, "Strokes of Genius" - it's gorgeously written, and a must-read for hard core tennis fans.
 

Sangria

Semi-Pro
I've wondered about Toni himself. Wasn't he a footballer? How did he become sucha a good tennis coach? Been thinking about that a lot lately....
No, his other uncle - Miguel Angel Nadal, former Barcelona and Mallorca footballer.

Great write up OP. Uncle Toni is for sure the driving force in Rafa's evolving game. It helps knowing previous matchups, and seems all Rafa's last defeats by the same players were a godsend in turning the next match into crushing victories.
 

Bud

Bionic Poster
Uncle Toni was actually an excellent tennis player. Jon Wertheim (sp?) of Sports Illustrated mentioned that Uncle Toni was on the level of being an excellent college level player.

Apparently, Uncle Toni had too many life interests to devote himself to just one thing, and that's why he didn't become a top pro. I believe that Jon mentioned that Uncle Toni was somewhere in the top 30 players among Spain at his peak.

He seems like a fascinating man. You can read more about him in Jon's book, "Strokes of Genius" - it's gorgeously written, and a must-read for hard core tennis fans.
Interesting coincidence that your name is also Jon... or is it Jonah? :-D
 

Raiden

Hall of Fame
I agree that Toni Nadal has a part in Nadal's success and in him being one of the best in strategy.

However, you are giving too much credits for the Soderling part. Nadal was always destroying Soderling once he was fit. It had nothing to do with new tactics or change.
Garbage!

Mr Topspin is absolutely spot-on. Nadal (or uncle Tony) decided to learn from the 2009 'setback' and mapped out a plan to become a bit more aggressive and get more power behind the ball. For protectionism purposes they had to divert the media and public's attention away towards minor ailments and aches that all top players have all the time.
.
 
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ViscaB

Hall of Fame
Great read!

What I love about Nadal is that he is like a raw diamond even at 24. He's still evolving in so many aspects. An example for all how you can reach your goals when you combine talent with endless dedication.
 

ksbh

Banned
Great thread!

Without question ... Nadal's coach, Uncle Toni is the best in the world. You must remember though that it makes a huge difference when your ward is one of the most talented tennis players of all time.

If you followed Formula 1 in the last decade, you'd have noted that they said Ross Brawn had a distinct advantage over his peers in other teams because he often had multiple strategies to choose from for races. This was because Michael Schumacher was brilliant enough to deliver no matter what strategy Ross chose.

It's a similar case with Toni & Rafa. It's easy enough for a coach to instruct his ward to make changes to his game but if the player isn't good enough, those changes won't come to fruition.
 

Mr Topspin

Semi-Pro
Many thanks to all contributors to this thread. I hope you all found it balanced and objective.

I have been following Team Rafa for some time and have been impressed at how many times, Rafa is able to implement the strategical changes which are undoubtedly coming from his uncle into a winning formula.

I will not be surprised if either this year or next that Rafa finally makes a breakthrough at the US Open. Team Rafa have already reduced his schedule and wil continue to make changes in order to allow Rafa to arrive at Flushing Meadows in the best possible condition.

It will be interesting to see whether the new string and attacking game bear fruit at this year's Open. If Rafa gets a decent draw which may include Federer as a potential SF at Flushing Meadows he may well make to the final and looking at Rafa's record he has won 80% of his grand slams 8/10 I would not bet against him making 9 out of 11.
 
M

meg0529

Guest
Great read!

What I love about Nadal is that he is like a raw diamond even at 24. He's still evolving in so many aspects. An example for all how you can reach your goals when you combine talent with endless dedication.
So true! Plus uncle Toni has taught Rafa a way of life, when it comes to tennis. Had he been just another coach, he wouldn't have been able to teach him respect and integrity on and off court. I love watching Rafa because his game is evolving, and as a result he isn't predictable. If we don't see a great hardcourt season this year, we certainly will see one next year. Thanks to Toni, Rafa is far from done, he is just getting started :)
 

Puma

Rookie
I think a large part of credit needs to go to Rafa. After all, its one thing to point out and teach how one should change stroke production, court positioning etc. However, its entirely another story to be able to do it, especially at that level. Nadals athletic ability is impressive to say the least.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
Uncle Toni
~noun
1. According to *******s: Malicious, manipulative and ambitious Dr. Frankenstein that took a poor, hungry kid from the slums of the desolate swamps of Mallorca (see also Mordor Islands) and made him a #1 by forcing him to swap right hand for left hand after years of painful Conan-like trainings that took place in an isolated cell somewhere under a shantytown, where the kid only was able to eat steroid-fed worms that left him a permanent butt itching.

2. According to *******s: modern Mahatma Gandhi that took a poor, hungry kid from the slums of the desolate swamps of Mallorca and made him #1 by teaching him the ways of love, peace, humility, kindness,

3. According to the rest: that guy that played in a Barcelona’s cricket team or something.
 

TheTruth

G.O.A.T.
Great thread.

In order for the formula to be a success, Toni is a great tactician, and Rafa is a hungry and dedicated student.

Many people have great coaches, but either they can't or won't implement their strategies.
 

bolo

G.O.A.T.
Hmmn, who knows how much toni contributes and how much nadal contributes etc. But having said that I would say nadal gets his discipline and and life outlook from his uncle. Great combo these two in mens tennis. :)
 
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lol tactical coach? Tactics and and Uncle Toni dont belong in the same sentence. Nadals tactics are one dimensional. Cant blame him considering his poor opposition on tour.
 

ManuGinobili

Hall of Fame
You guys are dwelling on the exact words again....


I think this is the first thread that I've enjoyed in the General Pro section in ... ever.


It's fascinating how Nadal came back after huge losses to those players and beat them so handily that he effectively wiped those losses off everyone's memory.
 

Nadalfan89

Hall of Fame
I think the Larry Stefanki/Roddick combo is slightly better than Nadal/Toni, only because Nadal has so much more pure talent than Roddick, that he could still be top 5 without a coach. Roddick, on the other hand, wouldn't be in the top 20 without great coaches like Macenroe and Stefanki.
 

clayman2000

Hall of Fame
You guys are dwelling on the exact words again....


I think this is the first thread that I've enjoyed in the General Pro section in ... ever.


It's fascinating how Nadal came back after huge losses to those players and beat them so handily that he effectively wiped those losses off everyone's memory.
Very true.

Even I at one point was saying that Nadal should dump Toni. To me, its very hard to gauge the success of Uncle Toni as a tennis coach for a variety of different reasons. Firstly, he wouldnt work very well with other pro's. His concern for character, and the way you conduct yourself has helped Rafas game immensly. He likely would have that same kind of effect with another player. In addition, he knows Rafas game, and ability more than any other coach knows about his player. That also helps his ability to create tactics and strategies, as he knows Rafas character and how he will react
 
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