Toni (Rafael Nadal’s uncle and coach) never stopped fretting at the prospect of success going to my head. This has become a reflex for him, taken sometimes to ludicrous extremes. One day early on in the French Open, he and I were strolling with Carlos Costa down a wide Paris sidewalk. I was walking in the middle. Suddenly Toni stopped.
Crosscourt: Tennis ace Rafael Nadal. By Getty Images
“Wait a minute. We can’t have this.” Carlos and I looked at him puzzled and mildly irritated, as if to say, “What now?”
“Can’t have what?”
“You, Rafael, walking in the middle like that.”
In Toni’s mind we were conveying the message to passersby that I was the special one of the three, as if he and Carlos were my bodyguards, or courtiers.
Edited extracts from ‘Rafa: My Story’ by Rafael Nadal with John Carlin, Hachette, 2011.