Toni Nadal remains a model for anyone who enters into coaching, and gives tennis instructors valuable tips when it comes to educate players about the importance of the mental and behavioural aspects of the game.
After all, the predisposition with which adversity is faced, and the way to mentally approach matches, can be key to the future success of many players who neglect it.
The essential part of it, according to Toni Nadal, is to accept the reality, and to work with a player towards this recognition that his rival may be better than him, and to work upon it to find ways to triumph:
“I don’t have any issues in telling my nephew if Federer is better, or Djokovic, or Murray. After all, there are players who have more ability at hitting the ball than Rafael, who hit it better.
I think that accepting the reality is the first step to solving the problems and improving.
There is this story, which I have told many times before…
In the Monte Carlo final, I think it was in 2006 or 2007… We usually met half an hour prior to the mach in order to discuss the tactics. On this occasion, Rafael told me, “What’s your feeling about the match? How do you see it?”
I told him, “Well, Federer has a better forehand than you do, his backhand is better, and his volley is also better”, and when I got to telling him, “And we better not talk about his serve”, he replied: “Uncle, then why do I have to take the court in a half hour?!”, I then told him, “Why should I mislead you? Should I trick you here, Federer wouldn’t on the court!”
Once this is accepted, it is time to look for the solution. This solution is varied… Hitting everything to his backhand or being more eager and more dedicated, whatever it is.
For this reason, I never hide myself. When I watch Djokovic play, I see in him qualities which are superior to Rafael’s and it doesn’t escape me. Same goes for Murray, who is very gifted, or for del Potro.
When all is said and done, there are always solutions. The best player doesn’t always win, nor does the one who hits the ball better.
Many roads lead to Rome, after all, and accepting that the other is better, or that the other is doing things better, or more easily, isn’t something offensive, to me, nor is it a bad stance.”
In the end, the most important, according to Toni Nadal, resides in working on the mental aspect of tennis, and accepting the reality is a vital part on this work that coaches need to do with every player.
The will and the attitude are the bases on which to build the future success of any tennis player.