'I would have hated Rafael Nadal to have turned out...', says top coach

“I would have hated if Rafael Nadal had come out…” says top coach

Hamburg stayed on the Masters 1000 calendar between 1990 and 2008. The most prominent champions were Stefan Edberg, Marcelo Rios, Gustavo Kuerten and Roger Federer, but one big name was missing from this list. Rafael Nadal had always preferred Rome to Hamburg, losing the 2007 final to Roger and getting another chance a year later.

After an early exit in Rome in 2008, Rafa went to Hamburg and faced world No. 3 and Rome champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. It was his tenth game and seventh win for Rafa, who went 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 in three hours and three minutes indoors on Central Court.

Novak had an extra reason to beat Rafa on clay for the first time. He could have become world No. 2 with that win but in the end he lost despite a great effort and 19 break chances to his credit. The Serb converted just four and suffered five breaks to push his opponent into the final against Roger Federer.

Both scored a similar number of winners. Djokovic went ahead of Nadal after an aggressive approach in the forced error department. Still, he made too many unforced errors in his quest, often at crucial moments, to lose the match and remain world No. 1.

3. Novak grabbed a break at 1-1 in the first game and cemented the lead in the third game with a forehand winner down the line. Nadal lost 14 of 18 points since the game began and found himself 30-0 down in game four before fending off two break chances and putting his name on the scoreboard.

Novak wasted a game point in game five, losing serve and momentum after Rafa’s forehand winner. The Spaniard saved a break point in game six to eventually close the gap on rivals and level the score at 3-3.

Nadal has a golden opportunity

In Rafael Nadal’s autobiography, Toni describes how his nephew was a well-mannered boy growing up.

He said: “Respect for other people, for everyone, no matter who they are or what they do, is the starting point of everything. What is unacceptable is that people who have had everything in life should be rude to other people.

No, the higher you are, the greater your duty is to treat people with respect.” Speaking about what he would have done if Nadal had been a naughty boy, Toni said: “I would have hated my nephew, himself developing differently, having tantrums on the pitch, having been rude to his opponents all over the world on TV.

Or otherwise being rude to the referees or the fans. I always say, and so do his parents, that being a good person is more important than being a good player.”

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