Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni has had his say on Roger Federer’s prospects for next year and what we can look forward too in 2019.
The 57-year old from Mallorca claimed it would be “difficult” for the 20-time Grand Slam champion to add to his collection. Writing in his column for El Pais, Toni Nadal said:
“I’m not sure what we can expect in 2019, but it seems difficult for us to see Federer lifting another grand slam trophy. I have to confess, though, that I have said this on other occasions about him and he has repeatedly surprised me.”
He also said while Federer still had the game to go the distance, the big question was whether playing five-setters at Grand Slams is something he would be able to sustain.
The Swiss maestro is currently ranked No.3 on the ATP Tour and at the age of 37, is the the oldest player in the top 100. Federer won four tournaments in 2018, at the Australian Open, extending his all time Major record, as well as tournaments in Rotterdam, Stuttgart and Basel.
He will return to competitive action at the Hopman Cup, where he will team up with Belinda Bencic as they represent Switzerland.
Interestingly, Uncle Toni, as he is popularly called, also wrote about the next generation of players on the men’s tour.
The man who has coached Rafa to 16 Grand Slam titles said he had often wondered if there were youngsters to overcome Federer’s game on grass, Djokovic’s on fast courts and Nadal on clay. He then said, the ATP World Tour Finals “made me think about it.”
At the ATP Tour Finals at the O2 Arena, 21-year old Alexander Zverev claimed the crown to record the biggest win of his carear. The German defeated Federer and Djokovic in consecutive matches at the semi-final and final stages, both in straight sets as he won his 10th singles title since turning professional in 2013.
Zverev was the only member of the Next Gen to finish inside the Top 10 this year.
Looking ahead to the new year and what we can expect, Toni said,
“For the coming year, I trust in the full physical recovery of Rafael, I feel new episodes of his rivalry with Djokovic will occur and, in general, a more open panorama with the incorporation of the new generation.”
Zverev is slated to represent Germany in the Hopman Cup, while Djokovic and Nadal will be featuring on the ATP circuit in the lead-up to the Australian Open in January.