French Open 2022 results: Rafael Nadal vs Felix Auger Aliassime, Toni Nadal reaction

Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach was the unlikely source of attention as his new disciple tried to end the Spaniard’s French Open run.

Rafael Nadal set up a blockbuster French Open quarter-final against world number one Novak Djokovic when he defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in an epic five-setter fourth round on Monday and pledged to “fight to the end”.

Nadal, a 13-time Roland Garros champion and holder of a record 21 Grand Slam titles, triumphed over the Canadian 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in a game that lasted four hours. and 21 mins.

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It was only the third time in 17 years and 111 career matches in Paris that Nadal had been stretched to five sets.

Nadal and Djokovic will meet for the 10th time at Roland Garros and 59th overall in a rivalry that dates back to 2006.

“We know each other well, we have a lot of history. The only thing I can say is that I will be focused, do my best and fight until the end,” Nadal said of his renewed rivalry with the defending champion.

Djokovic was responsible for two of Nadal’s three defeats in Paris – in the quarter-finals in 2015 and in the semi-finals last year.

Nadal hailed Auger-Aliassime, who has been working with his uncle and longtime former coach Toni since April last year.

“Felix is ​​a great player, one of the best in the world. He’s very young with a lot of power and great mobility,” said the 35-year-old Spaniard, who made the back eight for the 16th time.

Toni Nadal’s presence caused a stir in Paris as he was clearly struggling to choose sides between his current pupil and the family member he guided to so many French Open titles.

Ahead of the match, he said his ‘ethics’ did not allow him to advise Auger-Aliassime on how to beat his nephew – a stance he made clear when he started working with the youngster pistol if he ever had to face Nadal.

After the match, Toni reportedly told a France TV reporter: “Felix is ​​Felix, but my nephew is my nephew. I wanted him to win. For us, this tournament will always be special.

Tennis commentators weren’t thrilled with Toni’s stance. Jose Morgado said on Twitter that he “shouldn’t agree to be interviewed about this match” because “it’s just a bad look”.

Tennis journalist Gasper Ribeiro Lanca wrote: “I’m sure it wasn’t easy for the FAA to go to bed yesterday with this title. And then leaving the game and having that as one of the headlines.

“Toni always wanted Rafa to win, that’s obvious. But it should have been kept quiet on his part.

His journalist colleague Bastien Fachan published his agreement with this position on social networks.

Toni refused to sit in either player’s coaches box and instead watched the game from the VIP section of the Presidential Tribune.

Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail Toni even “left the stadium after the fourth set”, perhaps because his nerves couldn’t handle what was happening.

Auger-Aliassime, ninth in the standings, took a 3-1 lead in the first set on Monday and battled from three break points to take a 4-1 lead.

Nadal salvaged one of the breaks in game seven, but the 21-year-old Canadian kept his cool to bag the opener.

Two loose forehands at 3-5 in the second set opened the door for Nadal, 35, while the third set swung the Spaniard’s way in the third game when three quick defensive shoves forced an error from his opponent.

Auger-Aliassime then rallied to equalise.

In a tense finale, Nadal converted just the sixth of the 22 break points he had carved out to lead 5-3 and kept his composure to claim his 109th victory at Roland Garros.

Djokovic also reached the quarterfinals for the 16th time when he won 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 over 15th seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

“It’s a huge challenge and probably the biggest you can have here at Roland Garros. I’m ready for it,” Djokovic said of his former rival.

Djokovic is yet to drop a set at Roland Garros after going through the first week.

He has also won 22 straight sets, dating back to his Italian Open title triumph in Rome earlier this month.

With AFP

Originally published as ‘A bad look’: Toni Nadal’s French Open appearance in Rafa’s match sends tennis into a tailspin

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