« Starting from next year, I will stop following Rafael on the circuit and will exclusively be in charge of our academy. » You took these words from Toni Nadal like a punch in the face. Because you never thought that you’d ever witness that scene…

« Starting from next year, I will stop following Rafael on the circuit and will exclusively be in charge of our academy. » You took these words from Toni Nadal like a punch in the face. You thought you’d never witness that scene, but here it is : your favorite player and his uncle and coach are splitting. A tragedy. Because on your side, you thought that Toni and Rafa Nadal would never split up when…


…you told yourself that the rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona wasn’t that important.


…after watching the movie Jackie about Ms Kennedy, you secretly hoped for a full-length feature film called Toni to come out. The sexiest first lady in the history of the ATP.


…you’re favorite Tony from the sporting world isn’t Tony Parker, Tony Hawk, or Tony Yoka. It’s a Toni which ends with an -i, and who no one actually ever saw playing any sport.


…at family reunions, you would politely kiss your grand-parents on the cheek. Out of courtesy, you would also shake your cousins’ hands. You didn’t even pay attention to your aunts. But when you saw your uncles, you rushed towards them to great them with a big pat on the back, smiling, waiting for them to tell you about their latest stories.


…you thought that love lasted longer than seventeen years.


…your favorite song is Tonton du bled from 113.


…the only time you really blamed Toni was when he let Rafa play in capri pants and a tank top. But it was a long time ago, and you have forgiven him since then.


…at every Christmas, you would get your uncle an Iberostar Hotels & Resorts cap.


…in the movies, you always preferred sidekicks, and you know very well that Batman would have died a million times without Robin, that Han Solo would have crashed his spaceship without Chewbaca, and that Mushu is the true hero in Mulan.


…you know that Rafa used to be right-handed. He still carries on using his right hand for every single task of the everyday life, but Toni forced him to play with his left hand. Since you’ve learned about this anecdote, your favorite saying has become « no pain, no gain. »


…you only watched Roland-Garros for two reasons : to see Rafael lifting the trophy, and watch Nelson Monfort interviewing Toni in the stands at everyone of his nephew’s matches. 


…you gradually began to see new faces in Rafael Nadal’s entourage. His father, Carlos Moya, a new agent here, a new physio there. But you never thought that one day, Rafael could make it without Toni.


…you know that when Nadal was still a young boy, his uncle would make him practice with rubbish tennis balls on almost impracticable courts to teach him how to be good in any given circumstances. In your mind, when you imagined the picture, the scenes were far better than any training session in the Rocky movies.


…you can’t remember the last time that you’ve pronounced their first names in full. For you, they’ve always been Rafa and Toni.


…each time you saw Rafa lifting another Grand Slam trophy, you would scream in front of your TV : « They did it, they won ! » without anyone knowing why you were using the plural form.


…to you, doubles in tennis isn’t two players playing in the same team. It’s one player on the court, and his partner in the stands, a few meters behind him.


…you know that the two buddies have won 69 titles together, including fourteen Grand Slams, which makes Toni the most decorated tennis coach of all time.


…you’ve always laughed watching Federer’s entourage, with Mirka surrounded by a bunch of anonymous Swiss coaches.


…last October, you saw nothing coming when Rafael Nadal opened his tennis academy in Manacor. You couldn’t imagine for a single second that it would be Toni’s escape route…


… these lyrics from Jean-Jacques Goldman have always brought a tear to your eye : « You're from my family, from my order, from my rank. The one I've chosen, the one I feel, in this army of ordinary people. You're from my family, far more than the blood's one. »


By Alexandre Doskov