Nadal would be the greatest but for injury woes - Uncle Toni

By Sports Desk November 17, 2019

Rafael Nadal would already be established as the greatest men's tennis player in history if injuries had not disrupted his career, according to uncle and former coach Toni Nadal.

The Spaniard has 19 grand slam titles and is one short of matching Roger Federer's record haul, with the Swiss in his sights heading into the 2020 season.

Nadal's princely haul includes an unprecedented 12 French Open crowns, as well as four successes at the US Open, including his 2019 triumph when he toppled Daniil Medvedev in a breathtaking final.

Knee problems in particular, but also a host of further physical issues, have blighted 33-year-old Nadal during his career, and since making his grand slam debut in 2003 he has missed eight majors.

Federer, in stark contrast, has only been forced to miss two by injury - the French Open and US Open in 2016 - although he also elected to skip Roland Garros in 2017 and 2018 in favour of a rest.

And Novak Djokovic, the third member of the men's 'Big Three' with 16 slams, has been absent for just the 2017 US Open since his big-stage debut at the 2005 Australian Open.

"For the moment, the best in history I do not know if is Federer, Rod Laver… it is very difficult to determine who is the best in history," Toni Nadal told Omnisport.

"I do not like excuses and I do not want to make them. If my grandmother had two wheels, it would be a bicycle…

"I believe that if Rafael wouldn't have had so many injuries, probably today he would be the best tennis player in history. He had the injuries and there is nothing more to say.

"Anyway, let's wait until the end, when everybody has finished their careers, we will say who is the best one, but it is always difficult to determine who is the best.

"I do not know which aspects of the games of statistics you take into account, if it is one or another. It won't be much difference, I believe, when Federer, Djokovic and Nadal finish their careers… and Rod Laver, it won't be much difference."

Toni Nadal saluted his nephew for another scintillating season, in which he landed slams in Paris and New York and finished the year as world number one.

It hardly mattered that he fell short at the ATP Finals, edged out in the group stage.

"Back in 2005, it was unthinkable that he would be number one of the world again in 2019," said Toni Nadal.

"I think that Rafael has made efforts all his life to keep being on the top and at the end he has had this reward.

"When things don't go well he has this capacity to continue. But after that, I think that he has a capacity to generate great shots in bad postures, if we talk about technical aspects. On this matter I believe that he is the best in the world. He is a guy that on a position of instability, he can make even better shots."

Asked to similarly pick out the main virtues of Federer and Djokovic, the man popularly known as 'Uncle Toni' added: "Federer: his elegance above all. But elegance based on effectivity, not only elegance and little effectivity. Elegance and great effectivity.

"And from Djokovic, his extraordinary capacity of attack and defence and his mobility: it is easy from him to be in the right place, he is a very complete player. I believe that the three of them have similar capacities."

Related items

  • Rogers earns Serena showdown in Lexington Rogers earns Serena showdown in Lexington

    Shelby Rogers will face 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open after seeing off Leylah Fernandez.

    American Rogers was too good for Fernandez, winning 6-2 7-5 at the WTA International event in Lexington on Thursday.

    After cruising in the opening set, Rogers trailed 5-2 in the second before reeling off five straight games to trump the emerging Canadian teenager.

    Awaiting Rogers in the last eight is countrywoman and former world number one Serena Williams, who outlasted sister Venus earlier in the day.

    Serena rallied from a set down to defeat Venus 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the 31st instalment of a rivalry dating back 22 years.

    Down 4-2 in the deciding set, the 38-year-old Serena fought back to vanquish Venus after two hours, 19 minutes on Center Court.

    Elsewhere, Jil Teichmann stunned fifth seed Yulia Putintseva 6-2 6-2 and next meets Cici Bellis – who accounted for Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-2.

  • 'Super relaxed' Serena striving for rhythm after vanquishing Venus 'Super relaxed' Serena striving for rhythm after vanquishing Venus

    A "super relaxed" Serena Williams plans to just "see what happens" at the Top Seed Open after beating her sister Venus to reach the quarter-finals 

    Serena came from a set down to defeat her older sibling 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a tight contest in Lexington, Kentucky on Thursday.

    The 23-time grand slam singles champion has been taken the distance in back-to-back matches this week in her first WTA Tour event since the season resumed following a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Serena said she has no expectations of winning the tournament a fortnight before the US Open gets under way behind closed doors at Flushing Meadows.

    The 38-year-old American said: "I honestly didn't come here to win for the first time in my career. I just came here to get some matches and see what happens.

    "I haven't had this much time off since the baby [her daughter Olympia]. Now I'm just trying to get some rhythm and see what happens to be honest."

    Serena came from 4-2 down in the final set to book a meeting with Shelby Rogers or Leylah Fernandez and the former world number one had high praise for her 40-year-old sister Venus after coming out on top for a 19th time in their 31 meetings.

    "She played unbelievable," the top seed said. "Honestly, I don't know how I was able to pull it out in the end."

    Serena added: "I just really tried to focus on those last two games. I am super relaxed. There's no crowd, so it kind of makes it super relaxing. And I have been practicing in a lot hotter conditions than today."

    Victory for Serena came after Bianca Andreescu, her conqueror in the US Open final last year, revealed she is not ready to make her comeback in New York.

    The 20-year-old Canadian has not been in competitive action since October after suffering a knee injury and said the COVID-19 crisis left her short of preparation to ensure she could fire on all cylinders at the US Open.

  • Serena holds off Venus in hard-fought Top Seed Open clash Serena holds off Venus in hard-fought Top Seed Open clash

    Serena Williams fought back from a set down to defeat sister Venus on Thursday and advance through to the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open.

    In the 31st instalment of a rivalry going back 22 years between the legendary siblings, it was tournament favourite Serena who prevailed 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Kentucky.

    Serena trailed by two games in the deciding set but hit back to win a high-quality contest and set up a meeting with either Shelby Rogers or Leylah Fernandez in the next round.

    Both players are this week competing for the first time since the WTA Tour season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was Venus who started the quicker.

    Serena charged into a 2-0 lead in the opening set but her older sibling won five games on the bounce to take control.

    There were too many errors from Serena, and Venus made her pay, winning the first set point she manufactured courtesy of a powerful serve that the favourite could not return.

    Serena, who has now won 10 of their past 12 completed encounters dating back to 2009, responded well in the second and went a break up at 4-2 before seeing out the set to level up.

    After a 10-minute break in accordance with the heat rule, Serena drew first blood in the deciding set by breaking her opponent with a cross-court forehand in the third game.

    Venus instantly hit back by breaking in the following game and opened up a 4-2 advantage when converting with a forehand winner in the sixth.

    However, the older Williams - without a win this season - was unable to pull clear and lost two of the next three games, with Serena making the most of a double-fault to lead 5-4.

    The final game went with the serve, despite the 23-time Grand Slam winner falling 30-15 behind, as Venus misfired off the forehand down the middle to settle a tight tussle.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.