Champions League final starts more than half an hour late

He no longer trains his nephew since 2018, whom he ‘built’ as a tennis player since he was a child on the courts of Manacor, the Nadal family fiefdom in the east of Mallorca, and for a year he has contributed his experience to N.9 of the world, whose full-time coach is Frenchman Frédéric Fontang.

Rafa’s career would not be understood without his uncle Toni: with him he won 16 Grand Slams (of the 21 that the Spaniard has) and ten Roland Garros (of 13) in the 17 years that he accompanied him on the ATP circuit.

Will he give advice to Auger-Aliassime to try to defeat the king of clay?

“Of course not! I already told Felix that my ethics do not allow me to give advice to win my nephew. It’s as if he were advising someone to beat my son! ”, Smiles the sixty-year-old coach in an impromptu meeting with the press on the edge of court 12, where the Quebecois trained this Saturday at noon.

“When Feliz came to the academy to ask me to collaborate, I told him: ‘If we play against Rafa, I’m sure I’m not going to do this when you win a point,’ he explained, showing a clenched fist. “And if Rafael had said no, he wouldn’t have taken it.”

– “More than a guy” –

On Sunday at the Philippe Chatrier, Toni Nadal plans to follow the match from a “neutral” place. Neither in the box of his ward nor in that of his nephew.

Despite the fact that this matter monopolized most of the questions in the last press conferences of Rafael Nadal and Auger-Aliassime, the two players downplayed what will happen on Sunday.

“It’s very simple: he’s my uncle, I have no doubt that he wants the best for me and I don’t think he doesn’t want me to win. He is now a professional and he helps another player. I have no problem with that”, declared the Spaniard.

“There is no story: I know the feelings we have for each other. I know he wants the best for me and I want the best for him. First of all we are from the same family… More than family: we are a family that lives together all the time, we live in the same town, we spend a lot of time together at the academy. We have experienced incredible emotions together. He is more than a guy. I will never be able to thank him for everything he has done for me for so many years, “he added bluntly.

Did Toni consult you before agreeing to advise the young Canadian talent? “You don’t have to ask me for anything. She’s old enough to make his decisions, isn’t she?” the nephew smiled.

– “Particular case” –

“We knew from the beginning that this could happen, obviously it is a particular case”, recalled ‘FAA’, 21 years old, who had never won a single match at Roland Garros until this edition, but who has not lost a set again since he had to come back from 2-0 against in his debut against the Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas (N.122).

“When we are together, we talk about Rafa, about what he does well, about what can be learned from him, also about the things that Toni considers that Rafa did not do so well”, he explains.

This time, at least, Auger-Aliassime does not see the use of a long speech, even if it is from the person who knows Rafa Nadal the tennis player best.

“I don’t know if I need you to explain to me how Rafa plays. We all know what he does well… I don’t think Toni will teach me anything new about Rafa’s game”, smiles the Montreal native, who since receiving Toni Nadal’s advice has improved especially in his movement on the court and in his footwork.

“I know him (Rafael) and in the end I am the one who will have to find solutions during the game. Nobody, not Toni, not Fred (Fontang), not me have the recipe to win. In any case, if there was a secret to beat Rafa, he wouldn’t have won 13 times here…”.

Auger-Aliassime sees this game as “an opportunity to see where I stand in relation to him, who has had a lot of success here”.

For Toni, in all cases, a “painful defeat” is predicted.

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