I worried for Rafa during slump, says uncle Toni

Updated: Jun 07, 2010, 12:16 PM IST

Paris: He was all smiles on Sunday but there were times earlier this year when Rafael Nadal`s uncle and coach Toni feared his nephew was struggling to recover from the darkest period of his career.

Toni, who has coached Nadal since he was a toddler, joined the celebrations after the 24-year-old claimed a fifth French Open title in six years with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Robin Soderling, the Swede who began all the problems 12 months ago.

"Last year was a very difficult one and I remember the final tournament (ATP World Tour Finals) in London was very tough," a sweating Toni told reporters in the players` restaurant minutes after Nadal`s emotional reaction to victory on Chatrier Court.

"Now we are here and we are very happy and for us it`s unbelievable. This makes up for last year."

"I did have some doubts though. I believed in the work we were doing but I started to think maybe it would not be enough."

"When we finished 2009, we finished with problems which wasn`t good. Last year he had many problems and the problems with his knees."

Nadal`s defeat by Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open last year began a torrid few months for the Mallorcan.

He missed his Wimbledon defence with knee problems and lost his top ranking while off court the divorce of his parents also weighed heavily on his shoulders.

Nadal failed to win a tournament during the second half of 2009 and at the ATP World Tour Finals he did not even manage to win a set. Toni said that it was not until the start of the claycourt season that things began to turn.

"He was good in the first tournament in Doha but then he had problems again in Australia. In the big moments I thought he wasn`t so good with his mentality. He was making mistakes on break points and big points which was not like him," said Toni.

"But in Monte Carlo he played really good. All his parts came together. The movement, everything."

Bureau Report