I love Uncle Toni. Correction. I FLOVE Uncle Toni. He looks like he'd give a good hug. And if you were totally down in the dumps he seems like he would have that perfect philosophical gem that would get you out of it. And he seems so calm all the time. And more importantly, he helped raise Rafa and sculpted him into the awesomely down to earth and humble #1 that we have today.
So here's a pretty great posting by Peter Bodo previewing a longer interview he and Wertheim had with Uncle Toni that will be published in the next Tennis magazine. Some choice excerts:
In a sneaky way, Rafael Nadal is an outsider, and Toni is partly responsible for his nephew's ability to resist becoming just another guy content to go to work to take his cut, or getting all tangled up in conflicting feelings of respect, envy and resentment toward his great nemesis. And Toni seemingly achieved that without ever once resorting to platitudes about winning being "everything", or the value of being the no. 1 player in the world.
Toni simply doesn't talk in those terms. He talks about discipline, self-sufficiency (Toni refuses to take his nephews rackets for stringing, on the grounds that Rafael's the one who has to play with the danged things. Besides, Rafael has all the time in the world when he's at tournament, so why shouldn't he be the one dealing with that kind of thing?), hard work and respect for everyone, regardless of his or her station in life. That may sound hokey, or carefully orchestrated to project a certain image for Toni or Rafael. All I can say is that we spent well over hour talking with Toni, and I've yet to meet someone whose true colors aren't revealed, in or between the lines, over a period of that length.
Q: Are you concerned, as a human being, that Rafael is just being driven and pushed like a racehorse, and suffering in other aspects of his life, or education?
A: I was in university, but to me it’s not very important. For me, the important thing in life is to have an interest in things. I come here to learn something about American people. I like to see the television, what people are watching. To me, the thing is to be interested, maybe read newspapers. At the moment, young people not too interested in things. Is a pity. But when you spend so much time to be a good tennis player, journalist, business manager, you cannot do much else.
You always give up some things to have other things. When I go with girlfriend, I cannot be here. When Rafael is here, he loses chance to be at the beach with his friends. But when he’s at beach, he loses chance to be here. You cannot have everything. In this life, you have this - or that. So for Rafael, he has a good life at the moment, like me, no? I am very happy to be sitting at my house at home in front of the beach and my garden, but if I am there all the time I am bored. When I speak with one of my kids (Toni has three) I think it better to be there, with them. But then I cannot be here, at US Open. it is always a choice: this – or that.