Speaking to a crowd in Vigo last week, Toni Nadal recalled the conversation he had with his nephew Rafael prior to the 2009 Australian Open final win over Roger Federer. The Spaniard was coming from a five-hour semis against Fernando Verdasco and he could barely mover properly in his warm-up.
"Any problem?", I asked - said Toni - "I have so many that I don't know where to start from", he told me. "You will know if you want to make an effort or not. Now you will be doing bad and in two hours you will not be doing better, and God, mother or father will not help you."
Commenting on his work ethics, Toni added: "It's not just about winning but doing it in a certain way and that means a lot both for the sport and any environment of your life." For Toni, humbleness is the key: "Just the very silly people do not have doubts.
I was a strict coach, but if you are not motivated you cannot do anything in your life. I was hard because I wanted to prepare my nephew for the difficulty, so that in the future the life would be easier." In a column for El Pais, Toni wrote: I suddenly became Barack Obama, it was necessary to create a light atmosphere.
"Yes, we can!" I shouted. "Repeat it to yourself, Rafael!" We ended up laughing and he cameback as usual. In that moment I understood he was ready to face the match and use his chances. He took his racket and headed into the Central Court where he was waiting for Roger Federer.'