Uncle Toni says Nadal will catch Federer at 19 major titles

Rafael Nadal’s uncle and long-time coach, Toni, says the world No. 1 will eventually catch Roger Federer as the Grand Slam title leader with 19. The gap is three–exactly what it was when this season began, although each player unexpectedly added two to his respective total.

“We will get to Federer’s 19, yes,” Toni said. “I think it will happen. It’s difficult, but there is some more Roland Garros and I am confident other titles will come. When he was 12, 13 or 14, you never think he will get to this level. I am very happy to see my nephew lift so many trophies, knowing that he has achieved another piece of history.”

Nadal added to his total by recently capturing his third U.S. Open title. That came three months after he triumphed at Roland Garros for the 10th time in his career.

“He has won a hard-court tournament for the first time since 2014,” Toni noted. “We are very happy that he has won another Grand Slam, his 16th, and is in a position to fight for No. 1. It was unimaginable that would happen, of course. But I had faith that Rafael would win one more Grand Slam, I tell you truthfully.”

Federer had been stuck on 17 and thought by many to remain there until his retirement. But the two all-time greats tag-teamed to monopolize the major trophies in 2017. Federer prevailed at the Australian Open (his fifth there) and Wimbledon (his eighth).

The scored could be 18-17 right now, but Federer recovered from a break down in the fifth set to topple Nadal in a memorable Aussie Open final.

67 Comments on Uncle Toni says Nadal will catch Federer at 19 major titles

    • Hi Mira, I had seen that video. Awesome FH, but with his big backswing, it’s not as effective on quicker surfaces. I’m sure VR can elaborate better on that.

      I think Rafa has a flatter FH, he’s hitting his FH a bit flatter on grass and on HCs. I hope he develops and improves on that further so that he’ll be more awesome on quicker lower bouncing surfaces.

      • Hey Lucky!!…Yeah!agree with everything u said….I read somewhere that under Moya,rafa also improved his BH successfully by make it even flatter and he’s also hits it very early too…especially CC..dragged his opponents wide so he can unleashed his dangerous FH DTL or CC..

        I can’t wait for other improvements that Moya surely will keep voicing to Rafa especially after U.Toni is gone…much more so at AO next year…I think they both will be very motivated to get that one…What do u think Lucky??

        • Yeah Mira. I think Moya has a few things in mind for Rafa: 1) to beat Fed again; 2) to end the season as YE no.1 and 3) to help Rafa win more slams, AO being one of them I’m sure.

          I think they’re all achievable, let’s get excited and watch how Rafa (with his team) is going to achieve all those.

          • YEEEAAAHHH Lucky!!…LET’S!!…But,first of all,like Moya has stressed..Rafa has to stay fit and healthy for all that to happen…if not,it’s certainly will disrupt his momentum..and as we all know,if that momentum is disrupt,it’s going to take some time for Rafa to get back to his former level…and with Novak & co will come back again on tour…it’s sure will make everything harder…oh well,let’s just hope & pray that he will stay healthy & injury free till next year k?…Vamos Rafa!!Wooohooo!!…

            • OOppss!!….I didn’t see Lucky’s comments about Rafa has to stay fit & healthy below before i posted my comments…Sorry Lucky!!

  1. If Rafa is fit and healthy and stays motivated, I think he can at least tie with Fed on the slam counts. Perhaps each having 20 slams? Or more?

  2. I feel 2018 is a critical year for Rafa to win more slams, when 1) he has the winning momentum with him; 2) Djoko, Murray and Stan need time to get back on track so Rafa could take advantage of that before they come roaring back.

    I certainly hope Rafa can win AO + FO at least, before the injured trio get back their good form.

  3. Rafa is my long time favorite. What I find odd about the interview is Toni said he had faith Rafa would win one more slam. But in nearly the same breath he says Rafa will catch Fed. This I find perplexing. 3 more slams are no joke. Hell, thats all Murray has. It sure will be more achievable if Djoko fails to find his previous form.

    • I think that interview where he said Rafa would get one more slam,was done before Rafa won his USO(or even FO). Toni after the USO, now said Rafa may catch Fed, probably after analyzing the current situation.

      As I mentioned, 2018 will be the best year for Rafa to win multiple slams and close the gap with Fed; I doubt Djoko or Stan or Murray will come back all guns blazing right away. I feel at the beginning of 2017, Rafa wasn’t ready to win at the AO and he was surprised by his own good level, whilst Fed was ready to do well, esp when they sped up the courts there. Djoko’s early exit did help both Rafa and Fed imo, and Djoko being injured at Wimbledon had made it even better for Fed (imagine Fed having to battle against Djoko in five sets at the SF there, Cilic would then like his chances better in the final, though he might still lose).

      I hope Rafa continues with his good form for the rest of this season and carries that good form and momentum into 2018. There’s no better time to win the AO than in 2018 for Rafa, imo.

      • I don’t think we should discount Djokovic and Murray arriving at AO’18 in near-perfect condition like Rafa and Fed did this year after a long break, especially Djokovic. Yes, Djokovic had a elbow injury but I thought his problem was more a lack of motivation. If he fixes this he will be his old dangerous self. I have seen pictures of him hard at training, not looking like he is hampered physically at all. Rafa would have surpassed Fed a long time ago had it not been for Djokovic. I still expect him to have a say in how many Slams Rafa ends up with.

        At the same time, I also think the key for Rafa is motivation and belief. I agree with you, with winning momentum on his side, Rafa has the tools to deal with anyone in the game. I also feel that belief was lacking at AO’18 that is why he lost to Fed. Hopefully, this is an area Moyà will make a difference at: infuse Rafa with that belief. It is time to let go of doubts. While those doubts were a strategic tool in his youth, they are not now.

        AO’18 will be key. If Rafa wins that then he puts himself in a good position to surpass Fed.

        • Belief lacking at AO’18? You mean AO’17 right?

          I doubt Djoko will come back and do a Fed at the AO, not forgetting AO is on quicker HC now. Both Rafa and Fed are not going away, and if both play their aggressive tennis, I think Djoko will have his hands full!

          I don’t expect a Djoko playing like the way he did at AO2016 SF and F; more of his 2013/2014 AO perhaps, i.e. having to fight hard and grind when necessary.

          Fed and Rafa are playing good or even great tennis, better than their 2014-2016 level; I really doubt Djoko will get back to his dominant self; we’ll see….

          • I am very curious about Djoko’s performance at AO18. Imagine the draw he will have to go through in order to win in. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it, but still I believe Rafa, Fed, Dimi and the rest will be just too much for Novak. Also Murray and Wawrinka will be back. Zverev and Kyrgios will be expected to start playing some real tennis at a slam too.

          • Sorry, meant to say his belief was lacking at AO’17.

            Hard to believe but it seems the only thing that is going to make a difference amongst these greats is speed of court surfaces and quality of balls. Remember how Rafa was frustrated by the balls at Montreal? The Australians have been chopping and changing the AO court speeds it is playing a major factor in determining the ultimate winner, which is a shame. I wish the different Slams would choose a speed and suck to it.

            Djoko clearly does not like quick HC, Rafa and Fed do, more so Fed. If AO’18 is as fast as it was at AO’17 then I fancy Rafa’s chances this time.

            • I wish that the AO would stick to the fast one from this year, and that US Open would keep theirs slow like it was this year. It makes things so much more interesting, imo. Many people argue that the homogenization of the court speeds on hard and grass in the last 15 years was a natural factor in modern greats having success on all surfaces. Wimbledon used to be like a soaking-wet ice rink. If you went back in time to just the ’90s even, and showed players back then a tape of the 2008 Wimbledon Final, they would have said, “That can’t be grass! Those guys are slugging it out from the baseline! The ball bounces up to their chests! It must be funny-looking clay that they dyed green…” And with the homogenization of court speeds/bounces came the almost near-death of net play, which also coincided with all the racquets and strings being made for baseline slugging and return crushing. I’m certainly not complaining, as it gave us arguably the greatest years of men’s tennis ever. But I’ve definitely felt like in recent years it started to get monotonous with courts and game styles. I was thrilled to see AO fast and US Open slow! 🙂 Part of me wonders if a guy like Mischa Zverev would have been able to realistically beat Andy Murray at AO had they not sped the court up. I thought it was beautiful to see Mischa be able to execute his game style on the big stage.

              Old-timers may wish Wimbledon went back to being impossible for straight-up baseliners, but I personally like how they made that court at least a little more accessible to players who weren’t just serve-and-volleyers or massive serve-bots.

        • I also want to add that I do feel Fed and Rafa’s successful comebacks in 2017 were helped by Djoko’s injury issue. I mean had Djoko played his dominant tennis in 2017, not being injured, I think Fedal might each win a slam, but not having a clean sweep. Fedal are both in their 30s, it’s not like Rafa’s comeback in 2013 when he’s still relatively young at 26/27. Djoko’s level during 2013 did drop a little, but not to the extent as in 2017.

          So, I don’t think we should expect Djoko and Murray (and Stan) storming back right away in 2018, as they’re all in their 30s, and they’re going to face Fedal who are playing good to great tennis, unless, touch wood, Fedal are not fit and healthy come 2018.

          The big four (or five) are getting old, I don’t expect miracles from them, they have to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

          • How about djokos amazing 2015 n half 2016 coinciding with rafas drastic fall in level.

            How about Fed taking advantage of rafa injury in 2009.

            They all have benefited equally …

            • Yeah, Sanju, nothing wrong with that, and that’s why I said, they have to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. I’m glad Rafa takes his chances now, having missed some chunks of seasons due to injury.

  4. IMO Rafa can win 4 more RG , 2 USO and 1 AUS . so in total 23

    Federer wins another Wimby , tops 20 .

    so it will be 23-20 at the end.

    • Nadal winning seven more slams?? Sorry but that’s as likely as Tomic trying for more than a tenth of the season. And I’m not saying that in any disrespects towards Rafa. I just don’t think anybody could win seven slams from age 31 to the end of their career.

  5. Winning slams is not like dropping some peanuts. For some people they are just numbers, but winning a slam is huge. Rafa and Fed might not win any slam at all. That’s possible. A year ago I used to believe Fed might win one more, but that still would be a miracle.
    Rafa has greater chances than Roger to win at least one more, mainly due to age and his dominance at FO. An AO2018 title for him would be unvaluable. He is 31, the age when even the great players stop winning or slow down. For Federer to be able to keep that distance of 3 slams from Rafa at his age, seems to be amazing. Especially when the Spaniard came back very strong this year.
    They never fail to surprise. I don’t want to make predictions. Will found out in a few years who is where.

  6. Sampras on Rafa chasing Roger’s slam tally:

    “Can Rafa beat Roger’s record? Basically it’s up to Rafa and how much he wants to play and how much he loves the game,” said Sampras, who sits third on the men’s all-time Grand Slam winners’ list behind Nadal and Federer. “If he said: ‘Hey guys, I’m gonna play until I’m at least 35’, I’d say he’s got a pretty good shot at doing it.

    “If you do the maths, he’s going to have many chances to win majors and he has the heart and mind to continue winning them. He will always be a favourite at the French and while Wimbledon will be a stress, at the other two [Slams] he’s always going to be in the top-two favourites. It really is entirely is up to him if he wants to play into his mid-30s like Roger.”

    So basically, Pete is saying it will depend on how long Rafa can continue to be really hungry and of course have the ability to stay fit.

    • I agree with what Sampras said. I think it depends on Rafa’s health and fitness plus his desire and motivation. I feel as long as he plays with a good level of aggression, shortens his rallies and hence his matches overall, he’s in for the long haul (I’m talking about playing till age 35, i.e. a 20 years career!).

      I think what Moya has done for Rafa – getting him to shorten practice sessions and concentrates on being aggressive; pays attention to good nutrition – all these will help Rafa to improve his fitness and stays healthy to go the distance.

      I also like Rafa’s attitude of always wanting to improve, never satisfied or feels complacent; certainly there’re still areas Rafa can improve and perhaps that’ll help drive him to work hard everyday and stays motivated.

  7. All possible and plausible, but this has all been said before, after Rafa dominated in 2010, many were saying he would surpass Roger, then Novak came along from nowhere, then when Novak did the none calendar GS there was talk of him surpassing Roger, now all of a sudden its all about Rafa surpassing Federer again, so the goal posts keep on moving, thats the interesting thing that nobody knows what will happen next ….

    • I like the way you put that, Alison- “the goal posts keep on moving…” I don’t know if I’d heard that one before. 🙂

  8. Rafa plays his best tennis while he is chasing something. And this is a legtimate target. He will get to 19, question is can Fed raise the bar even further. he can get at least 1 wimbly, maybe 2.
    Also, I strongly feel Fed would have retired by now if he didn’t have Rafa breathing down is neck in terms of slam count.

  9. 2018 will be really tough and exciting and i can’t wait to see what happens.
    If Novak, A. Murray, Stan Wawrinka, kei. Milos fully recover then the courts will be set on fire come 2018.

    N. Djokovic will return to an Incredible form, he is a fighter and some of his problems were his elbow, fatigue and i think he reached a plateau but with a little bit of rest he will be bouncing again.

    R. Federer knows that time is running out, that’s why he has been amazing throughout this year and the year ain’t over yet.
    He is extremely motivated and 2018 will be R. Federer’s best year in tennis, he will lay it all on the court, pour his heart out and increase his Grand Slam’s(hopefully 21, 23 is possible but not consecutively), this Big Boy lol! is on fire and i wish him the very best.

    I know RF will soon retire but if he plays a little longer, 2018 will be his Golden opportunity not 2019.
    If he is healthy and just as motivated then his bestest year lol! is coming, yes it is coming and tennis as we know it will be ROGERLICIOUS!


  10. It would not surprise me at all for Rafa to end his career with the most overall major titles for man. It also would not surprise me at all of Federer ended up with the most majors, he is clearly still capable of adding to his total as well, if HIS body holds up. I think that it really does come down to health and longevity- for both of them. Although it’s pretty easy to for us to see no reason why Rafa won’t get more majors than Fed, it’s equally easy to think that he may not, given that people have been saying Rafa will surely get more than Fed since at least 2011. After 2014 French Open, it seemed absolutely inevitable that Rafa would pass Fed since there was only three titles separating them. And here we are, 3 1/2 years later and there is still three titles between them. It’s pretty clear that there’s just no way to know until it happens. What makes me think that it’s likely that Rafa will eventually end up with the most majors is strictly the age factor. If Rafa stays healthy and is able to be successful to the same age as Fed is successful, then it is hard to imagine him not eventually at least tying with Fed. The three obvious factors are Rafa’s health/longevity, Novak/Andy/Stan’s hunger/health/longevity, and whether Fed can add even more to his tally. If Fed is somehow able to match Rafa major for major like his did this season, it will only make Rafa chances harder as Rafa himself gets older. But to me, if you have two guys who both have a major tally in the low 20’s, then what’s really the difference? If one guy ended up with 28 while the other has 20, that’s a different story. But if one end up with 20 and the other with 21, that just further supports my belief that these two guys so equally great when you take all factors into account…

    • I don’t think we can know if Rafa will equal or surpass Fed’s slam total. That has never been of great importance to me. There are certain variables in play. Whether Fed wins more slams. Also one cannot rule out both Novak and Murray. They will come back next year healthy again. So I expect them to contend for slams again.

      Rafa needs to stay healthy. I don’t see him playing until Fed’s age. But we just don’t know what will happen in 2018. Who would have thought that Rafa and Fed would be the top two players and each win two slams!

      We cannot predict the future. People get carried away and then we start talking about Rafa ending up with the most slams. Rafa’s place in history is secure no matter what.

    • Huh? After FO2014? All I could remember was that Rafa was struggling to win FO that year, after his bad back issue at the AO. He was having a poor clay season by his standard; in fact I thought after his exit at Wimbledon, followed by a right wrist injury during practice, that he would have a tough time winning slams going forward, esp when he was approaching 30.

      His 2015 and 2016 seasons were worse than his 2014, and his left wrist injury had made things worse, even though his game did improve during the clay season. I thought Rafa could still win slam(s), for I (and we his fans) didn’t think he’s finished winning slams, maybe winning at the FO and hopefully get a AO.

      I doubt any of us were expecting a 2017 like this for Rafa. Rafa is fit and healthy now, which is important, when in the past, after he was doing well at the AO, he would end up getting injured during the season, or worse still, had to call off the season prematurely due to injury.

      I guess good conditioning and playing shorter points this season did help Rafa to stay injury free. I like what Moya brings to Rafa, no grinding tennis, more aggression with improved serve and stepping inside the court more often. I hope Rafa continues with his good run this ending part of the season, and, it’ll be the first time that Rafa plays a full season with good results and with no injury!

      PS. Rafa is already practicing at Mallorca; a good sign that he’s not fatigued after his run at the USO, and he’s fit!

      • This is surely Rafa’s greatest shot at winning Shaghai, Paris, Basel, or WTF for the first time. He’s confident. The two guys who have recently won these tournaments the most are not there. He is playing a style of tennis that is more suitable to indoor/faster hardcourts. Traditionally it’s often been non-Big 4 players who have prevented Rafa from winning these tournies, and I think that he is playing aggressively enough that he shouldn’t have as many issues with those other guys. If he were to be beaten, it would most likely be either a streaking big hitter i.e. Kyrgios, Zverev, Shapavolov, etc. or Federer, and his chances are still very good against all those guys, even indoors. Personally, given all these factors, I think it would be disappointing if Rafa isn’t able to capitalize on at least one of Shanghai, Paris, or WTF. I understand that expectations should be tempered given that he’s never won any of them, but I can’t think of a time when the stars were more aligned for him to make a post-US Open run. Maybe this will be like 2005 when he won Beijing and Madrid? We shall see! I hope that Fed gets fully healthy so we can have some drama again. 🙂 Overall, I think I would give Rafa a 75% chance of finishing season #1. Depending on how Fed and Rafa do at Shanghai, that percentage could up or down. Until then, I would not bet any significant money against Rafa finishing #1 again…

  11. My GS predictions 4 next year(2018):

    1) Australian Open- R. Federer will be the champion.

    2) Wimbledon- Roger Federer.

    3) French Open- Novak Djokovic will win it.

    4) US Open- Not sure, if R. Federer doesn’t win AO then he will win USO but if he wins AO then it’s open season cos A. Murray, Wawrinka, Novak have what it takes to win it even A. Zverev has a shot at this if he raises his game.

    • This surely aint happening. You know it too :-). Lets talk after ao 2018. If someone is predicting 2 slams for Roger and 0 for rafa after this year then it is just a fan wishing something , it’s not a logical rational prediction .

  12. USO was not physically involved in very long matches. In fact last 4 matches were on an avg 2 hour/match.

    Its the five setters that kill you. Fed would be more tired than Rafa after USO.

    I just hope Rafa skips Basel or Beining or loses early there.

    • Stanley would “predict” a 15 year old, 20,000th ranked player, who has never even won a Futures qualifying match, to beat Rafa. Sometimes I wonder if he even knows that “prediction” and “who I WANT to win” are not the same thing… 😉 Love ya, Stanley! You bring an often-needed element of humor to this site, even if you don’t intend that.

          • Thanks Kevin, i couldn’t stop laughing when i read that comment, some of my friends and strangers were looking at me strangely.

            You were funny, maybe i shouldn’t be too hard on Rafa, i don’t think i am hard on him, i respect his achievements but some people misunderstand me so…

    • Atu1985 your comment is not completely accurate, there were times i went with the over games(neutral), over sets and Rafito winning(his odds were too low).
      If you knew how much i like R. Nadal you would…

      R. Nadal receives too much sugar in this site and i don’t want to sweeten the cake.
      Too much sugar is bad!

  13. I am not even thinking if Rafa will catch fed. The time to think that is when Rafa reaches 18 and he is today only at 16 so it’s pointless .3 is a big gap at 31 years to fulfil. All I am bothered about is ao18 for rafa and no 17.

    • I agree with Sanju. I am concerned with the 2018 AO and #17!

      I still want Rafa to get the double career slam!

  14. What Toni said was that he thought Rafa would get to 19 slams. He didn’t say anything about how many more Federer might get. Sensible of him.

  15. So, two slams Rafa won , never got broken once in the finals. Even in totality faced a single breakpoint .Have never seen such dominat performance in the finals in a single year.

    • I think it’s just way too early for anyone to realistically realistically tip anyone for AO 2018 yet, as there are too many “ifs” at play. One obvious if is whether the trio of Novak, Andy, and and/or Stan will be able to play lights out in their first big tourny back, like how Fedal did this year. If those three are not able to bounce back immediately, then it would be hard for me to pick anyone aside from Fedal to win it. Then, another “if” is whether or not Federer is healthy or not. And the third factor would be if AO keeps the court really fast again, or if they revert back to the speed it was pre-2017. The faster the court, the more it would suit Fed’s game, and if it’s slow like US Open was this year then that would certainly favor Rafa more than if it were fast. However, if Fed is still suffering back issues, then Rafa would have to be the clear favorite, imo. Since it’s just way too early to make any assumptions about February 2018, I think that the most we can truly say is that Fedal have to be the clear-cut faves going in. That being said, we just have absolutely not idea where anyone will be at in 5 months from now, so I would have to view any specific winner prediction that anyone makes as strictly wishful thinking and/or pure speculation… We will have a much better idea of who should be favored for AO by the end of this season. We will have a better idea of the health of players. We will see if there are any younger players who are continuing to rise. We may have updates about the statuses of the injured players. And, perhaps most importantly, we will have a better idea of where Fedal are at in their respective games at season-end. Or in the case of Fed, we will also have a better idea of the status of his back. Not to mention we may have an updated view of their rivalry with EACH OTHER on hardcourts. It would certainly be extremely helpful to both of them if they were able to get another win over the other leading into the start of 2018. So I don’t see how any of us can make a truly informed prediction when there’s 5 months and lots of tennis to still be played before AO, and numerous important factors are as-of-yet unknown.

      I suppose that someone could say that they think Rafa will definitely win it no matter who’s healthy or playing well, or that Fed will definitely win it if he’s healthy no matter who’s healthy or playing well, or that Novak will immediately re-appear as 2015 Novak and win AO, but that would be largely wishful thinking at this point. Obviously any of those three guys, or Andy, or Stan, could win it, but I can’t see how anyone could make one of those predictions this far in advance…

  16. I wouldn’t discount Nole and Andy as they will certainly come back motivated and strong! What makes you think that either one would have a slow start at AO? Nole adores AO and it being faster than before won’t make a difference for Novak. I remember reading his reasoning behind his rest of the year time off: it wasn’t really the injury, it was the need to spend some quality time with his family, have some well deserved rest and preparing for the strong come back in January 18! So definitely Novak will do his all to be back to his old self which means trouble for both Fed and Rafa!

    I wouldn’t go that far to predict how many more slams Rafa could win! It’s perfectly reasonable for Toni to do it in order to motivate and support his nephew! For a fan it’s hard to predict given Rafa’s oscillations in form and all he has been through with injuries. I could see him winning more FOs if he is motivated. His best chance is one more AO as well, depending on how strong the field will be. For some reason I fear if Rafa goes on to win WTF this year he may be exhausted physically and emotionally to make a big winning run at the AO. And if I am asked for the preference I am not sure…either one would work for me ? All I know is that Basel, Beijing and Shanghai are irrelevant to me as Rafa fan, and as far as I am concerned should only serve as training field for Rafa..,don’t care if he loses early…WTF and AO is all that matters!

    Vamos Rafa!

  17. Toni won’t say things for the sake of saying! I believe he really thinks Rafa can do it; Rafa doesn’t need any more motivation from Toni!

    Djoko didn’t take time off just to rest, he needed time to let his elbow heal, I thought that’s obvious? He certainly didn’t retire against Berdych at Wimbledon just because he wanted some time off to rest? It’s more for healing I believe.

    The difference in Djoko’s comeback in 2018 vs Fedal’s in 2017, imo, is that Djoko will have to face Fedal playing at their good to great level and that makes things tough for Djoko; whilst Fedal in their 2017 comeback had an off form Djoko and Murray to deal with, and Fedal only needed to face Djoko/Murray only once in 2017 ( Rafa vs Djoko at Madrid)!

    I really believe Fedal will make things difficult for Djoko next year, given the way they’re playing this season and Rafa especially is looking fit and healthy.

    • Uncle Stanley says R. Federer will win 29 majors before he retires and no one will catch him.
      Uncle Stanley won’t say things for the sake of saying, i believe he thinks Roger Federer can do it.

      Roger doesn’t need extra motivation because R. Federer is the best.

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