Rafael Nadal has struggled with injuries, but when he is fit, he has shown that he is always a threat. This year he won the French Open, reached the Wimbledon semi-finals losing to Novak Djokovic in a five-set match, reached the US Open semi-finals and Australian Open quarters.
Over the years, Toni tried to make Rafa understand that injuries are part of the sport. 'I said: You have a great forehand, you are mentally above. But sometimes your body falls down. You have to accept it. His knees are vulnerable, he also suffered a wrist injury in 2016', Toni explained to NRC.
'And yet I was never afraid that he could end his career. There was a solution for every problem. He could not fall down because of his knees? Ok, he took the ball a little bit higher, it was not that different. Top players like Federer, Djokovic and Rafael always look for an alternative.
He was not confident? Rafa never gave up.' Former player Martin Verkerk praised Nadal's run at the 2017 French Open. That year, the Spaniard won all the 21 sets played over seven matches in the tournament and ended his campaign by defeating Stan Wawrinka in the final.
'His level was ridiculous, Nadal really dominated everyone on court,' said Verkerk. 'Without losing sets he wins the French Open, which is an unique result. You saw Nadal closer to the baseline and he dominated with the forehand.
In the last years Nadal was too much behind from the baseline. Then he lost to Djokovic in 2015 and in those years he could lose against everyone. He had lost his aura on clay, was ready to hire a new coach. He hits a stronger backhand and he serves better.
His mentality is still on top of his game. After 15 years Nadal still plays every point like if it was the last one in his career. It will continue until his body will not let him now. He makes players giving up on clay. As soon as Rafa heads into the Philippe Chatrier, he knows: I will retain my title.' ALSO READ: Rafael Nadal: Worse players than David Ferrer won a Grand Slam title