June 7,2014(ISN) – Rafael Nadal is poised to take home his ninth French Open title. And while the Spaniard continues to break records, his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, is not convinced that Rafa is the favourite going into the final against Novak Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal is a man with doubts that never go away. For him, each match is a battle he could win – or lose. He likes to think like someone who has to prove himself in order to win. It matters not that he has bested his own record of straight wins during this year’s French Open (34) and that he is one match and one win away from his ninth title here in Paris.
For both Nadal and his uncle, there is no doubt that the favourite this year is Novak Djokovic. “It’s because he’s very, very strong,” says Toni Nadal. “We would have preferred to have someone else in the final. I can’t even remember the last time Rafa beat him.”
The last time was at the US Open in 2013. Since then, Rafa has lost four matches, three on hard courts and the Rome final on clay. In Toni’s opinion, “Rafa will have to play at least as well as he did against Murray in the semi-final [to win]. He just about played a perfect match – it was one of his best at Roland Garros.” Team Rafa and Toni are certainly not expecting a walkover.
Nadal has got stronger this season, which is always a good thing. “He’s been training very, very well,” says Toni. “His practices are excellent, he’s hitting the ball well and I think he’s been playing well since the start of the tournament. But a final is a final, and it will be that much more difficult against Novak Djokovic.”
Rafa and Toni say that they are not concerned with titles, records and history right now. However, Djokovic is still looking to take home a French Open title, the only Grand Slam missing from his trophy cabinet. “That’s why Novak will definitely be turning up the heat,” Toni concludes. “Because in the end, he’s the one who has more to lose.”