Nadal’s No Danger Zone: Tell Me How It Is
They say success breeds success. So does stability, according to Rafael Nadal.
The 34-time ATP Masters 1000 champion says that sticking with his trusted team over his 16-year career has underpinned his on- and off-court achievements.
Long-term relationships with coaches Toni Nadal, Francisco Roig, Carlos Moya, physio Rafael Maymo, manager Carlos Costa and publicist Benito Perez-Barbadillo have been a hallmark of his career. And, of course, his long-term partner Maria Francisca Perello and family are never far from his side. Other constants include Joan Forcades (fitness trainer), Angel Ruiz Cotorro (doctor) and Jordi Robert (Nike).
Importantly, he has nurtured an environment in which team members feel confident to speak truth to power, even when it may not be advice he wants to hear. That, Nadal says, is a point of difference with many of his rivals and their coaching relationships.
“Tennis has a problem that normally the player pays the coach and the physio, the team. That sometimes creates an atmosphere that the people who are around the player are a little bit more scared about saying the real things to the player,” Nadal said.
“The player needs to give them the confidence that they can tell you what is the real thing for them, not what you want to hear all the time. In my opinion, it is difficult to build that in a short period of time.
“If you have the same team for a long time, of course they know that they are not in danger if they say one thing or another thing.”
The top seed and defending champion will again lean on his team this week at the Coupe Rogers, where he must reach the final to prevent Roger Federer from displacing him as World No. 2 when the new ATP Rankings are released on Monday.
But whether his outlook on commitment to team will work for others, Nadal was somewhat non-committal.
“I don't know what the new guys thinks about it. Times change. I can't say what works for me going to work for them.
“But for me personally, to have a good group of people around me helps me a lot for my education, for my preparation… growing during all these years.
“Important thing is to have a group of people around you that they feel free enough to tell you if you are doing the things right or not right, no? When you are changing people around you it very often is difficult to find this confidence.”