Rafael Nadal may have just won his ninth French Open, and he may have just become the joint-second best tennis player ever, but his uncle, Toni Nadal, believes the Spaniard is not special.
Toni, the brother of former Spanish footballer Miguel, who also coaches the world No.1, made the astonishing shout after watching his nephew take his Roland Garros success to new levels on Sunday.
Nadal's rival, Novak Djokovic, was brushed aside in a thrilling encounter in Paris and the Serbian star is still short on completing his career haul of the majors.
The four set triumph also drew the 28-year-old level with Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slam titles, only Roger Federer, with 17, has more.
Despite sending the records tumbling, Toni doesn't share the same enthusiasm as he attempts to keep the 'King of Clay' grounded.
“It’s incredible for me. To win here nine titles is unbelievable. Many years ago I can’t think that Rafael could win nine titles," he said to The Scotsman website.
“What Rafael has done, I’m sure that another one can do the same. Rafael is not special. Another guy can do the same, but it’s not easy. Because nine years winning a difficult tournament like this is very tough. It’s difficult to win one, to win nine in ten years is unbelievable. He’s not special, he’s a very good player I think, but not more than this.”
The celebrations of the French capital provide a perfect ending to a difficult season thus far. We hear the saying 'it'll be alright on the night' and that has certainly been the case for Nadal.
Questions were being asked of the defending champion on his favoured surface, something of a rarity as he has only ever lost at Roland Garros once in 10 years, after disappointing defeats in the Rome and Monte Carlo Masters, as well as the Barcelona Open.
However he turned up the style when it really mattered. Djokovic was a set up in the final and Nadal came back, while Andy Murray was destroyed in the semis.
There are suggestions now that the Majorcan-born star can go all the way and knock Federer off his perch, as the Swiss star continues his decline.
Nadal has four years on tennis' most successful star and it would only take three more Grand Slam wins for the world No.1 to share that title.
However, again, his 53-year-old uncle is not convinced: “It’s very difficult,” he continued. “Rafael is not too young and to win each tournament is really difficult.”
While Nadal must be aware of his mentor's wish to nullify expectations, the two-time Wimbledon champion must believe he can add a third to his collection.
Its been a disappointing few years at SW19 for the 2008 and 2010 winner. In his last two attempts, he has fallen at round two and one respectively.
Djokovic and Federer are much more comfortable on the grass and will therefore look to challenge the holder, Murray. The French Open semi-finalist became the first British man to win in London in over 70 years.
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