Surprised? Toni Nadal is working with Felix Auger-Aliassime

Toni Nadal

A couple years ago, Toni Nadal stopped coaching his nephew, Rafa Nadal. He was tired to traveling week after week and being at all the Grand Slams: the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. Toni Nadal wanted to stay in Spain, helping with other people too, but he helped Rafa essentially since he was born. Toni became a brilliant coach.

Now, Tony is working with Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, a very good young player.

“I never considered before to work for someone else,” Toni said.

Rafa added: “Toni has a lot of experience. He knows a lot about this sport. He has all the knowledge that somebody needs. I am sure that (is) going to be an important help for Felix. I want the best for Toni. He’s my uncle. I am very grateful for all the things that he did for me. I am happy for Felix. It’s going to be a good support.”

Rafa is addicted on clay, winning 13 Roland Garros titles. He is the favorite, without question this year. He is set to play five events: in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.

Rafa said, “I am excited. More than for the clay court season – of course, I love to play on clay, too – but I love to be here. I love these events. Of course, will not be the same without the typical atmosphere [with few fans, on site]. I will have the chance to play in a places that I know very well, places that I have a great story with every single event. For me, that’s important, no?”

Absolutely. His forehand is so vigorous, with heavy topspin. Down the line, he can flat it out. He is very burly and fast. For his returns, he starts way back hitting near the wall. Eventually, he will move forward to bang his forehand. He is very patient. Before he snaps his first and second serves, and he really thinks which way to go. Seventeen years ago, Nadal was already very good, but his backhand would fall too short. But, he worked his two-handed backhand, and now, while it is not perfect, but it is substantially better.
That is why the 34-year-old Rafa Nadal has grabbed 20 Grand Slams, tied with Roger Federer. Those two are the best, ever. At least in 2021.

But what about Auger-Aliassime? He is ranked No. 21, but he has yet to reach the quarters at the Slams. Tony wants to make sure that Auger-Aliassime will improve his knowledge of the game and how to strategie. When you are only 21-years-olds, you have to really listen.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was surprised that Toni is returning to coaching. “That came really unexpected. Didn’t see that coming. It’s pretty cool having a coach that has helped Rafael Nadal win so many important titles and has shaped his career in a way. It’s really good for him. I feel like he has an advantage having a coach like this.”

The longtime French veteran Benoit Paire said that now on court, with hardly no fans, and that bothers him: “I just don’t care. There’s no magic. What is the pleasure playing like this? Of course, it’s great to come [at Monte Carlo], but it’s like a practice session. If you’ve experienced the tour and you see how it is now, the only thing you want is to just go away. …There’s no pleasure in playing. The players who are there say they enjoy playing Monte-Carlo. I respect that a lot. But how sad is this for them? Normally this court is one of the most beautiful courts in the world. It seems like we are in a cemetery. Whether you win a point or miss, it’s the same. There’s no atmosphere.”

With 6-foot-6 Daniil Medvedev now has become better on the dirt, but he doesn’t like it. He gets confused and he cannot slide the right way.
“Every time I practice on clay, after when I play my match, I try to do my best, but it’s difficult for me. But honestly, there’s nothing I like on clay. There’s always bad bounces, you’re dirty after playing. I really don’t enjoy playing on clay.”

And then Tuesday, Medvedev pulled out of Monte Carlo. He has been “moved into isolation and continues to be monitored by the Tournament Physician and ATP Medical Team.” I could be weeks.

Belgian David Goffin is worried. Hopefully the vaccine will come soon, as he and many people haven’t be able to do get it.

Goffin, who bounced Alexander Zverev to reach the quarterfinals, explained, “For the vaccine, I hear many players that are not so keen about taking the vaccine. We have to see what the advantages are, if you can travel easier. It might be a positive thing. I’m not against it. I’ll try to do it as soon as I can. But for the time being, I’m not allowed to have it yet. I have to wait like everybody else.”

There are only two American men in Monte Carlo. Taylor Fritz lost in the first round and the No. 54 Tommy Paul reached the second round after his opponent retired but then lost to Roberto Bautista Agut. The No. 30 Fritz plays way too much, and maybe he should take a week off. Yes, he likes to play a lot, but it is risky.