Nadal’s uncle shares advice he gave to weather ‘Roger Federer storm’

Roger Federer announces retirement from professional tennis

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Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni paid tribute to Roger Federer after it was confirmed the icon is set to retire from tennis. Toni helped Nadal reach the pinnacle of the sport alongside Federer, with the duo enjoying a sensational rivalry that defined a generation.

Federer, universally considered one of the greatest players in the sport’s history, will retire from tennis after the Laver Cup in London this month. The 41-year-old, who won his first Wimbledon title back in 2003, has not played since Wimbledon 2021, after which he had a third knee operation.

Federer has struggled with a knee problem for the past three years that has restricted him to only three of the 11 Grand Slams staged since the start of 2020. It means news of his impending retirement does not come as a great surprise.

In a recent article for El Pais, Nadal’s uncle Toni – who now coaches Felix Auger-Aliassime – praised Federer for his conduct and ability on the court. His respect for the Swiss star is clear.

“Federer has been a role model,” Nadal wrote. “He was never rude or arrogant. He never asked the crowd, through gestures, to applaud or to root for himself after playing a great point. He always celebrated his wins in an elegant and discreet way.

“I remember the 2011 ATP Finals in London: he defeated Rafa 6-3 6-0 in an hour, and after the match point he lowered his head and did not lift his eyes from the ground until he shook hands with his rival at the net and gave him a pat on the back. 

“In his prime, he was playing in another league. Before the match, I used to tell Rafa: ‘There will be times when he will make you feel very inferior. Just keep fighting and wait for the storm to go away’. He is the biggest icon in tennis history.”

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Federer picked the annual Laver Cup event as his last appearance in professional tennis before he calls time on his illustrious career. The 20-time Grand Slam champion’s knee issues have meant a full comeback to the ATP Tour is simply not possible.

The 2022 edition of the Laver Cup will pit some of tennis’ greatest players alongside one another for Team Europe against Team World. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Nadal are scheduled to work together as Europe attempt to retain the silverware. 

Matteo Berrettini – the 2021 Wimbledon finalist – has been drafted in as an on-site reserve for Team Europe, who will play Team World in the three-day event, which starts on Friday. Team World will be made up of Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Diego Schwartzman, Frances Tiafoe, Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock.

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