Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of Rafael Nadal, revealed he prefers his nephew to face Roger Federer rather than Novak Djokovic because they ‘have a way to beat him’.
Uncle Toni can’t say the same for world No. 1 Djokovic. Devising a game plan for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, in his words, is more ‘difficult’.
It shows in the head-to-head records. Nadal trails Djokovic 29-26 but leads Federer 24-16. Djokovic is also up 27-23 on Federer.
‘For us it was always more difficult to play against Djokovic,’ Toni Nadal told Eurosport. ‘Because it’s not about who of them is better.
‘For us, when we play against Federer, we have a way to beat him. In my mind, before going on court, I know what we have to do.
‘When we play against Djokovic, many times we didn’t know exactly what we had to do. This is more difficult, for me. I prefer to play against Federer.’
That said, Toni Nadal still rates Federer as the greatest of all time (GOAT), for the time being, at least.
And he admitted he would support ‘elegant but effective’ Federer if he wasn’t emotionally tied to Nadal.
‘For me, he’s a wonderful player,’ he added.
‘I like to watch Roger Federer a lot. If I wasn’t the uncle nor the coach of Rafael, I would want Federer to win all the matches.
‘But at the end, I like how he plays, because he’s very elegant but he’s very effective too.
‘I know Federer is the best ever with I don’t know who; maybe Rod Laver or maybe Rafael, he’s not too far. But at the moment Federer is the best.’
So what is the secret to beating Federer?
Toni Nadal said: ‘When we play against Federer, we know – at least, that’s what I said to Rafael – we have a way to beat Federer: play two, three, four times with a high ball over his backhand and then you can go forward and take the lead.’
Toni Nadal and Carlos Moya were speaking to Eurosport as part of its Players’ Cut series which this week features Rafa Nadal. Players’ Cut airs from 6pm each evening this week on Eurosport 1.
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