French Open 2017: King of Clay Rafael Nadal hails Uncle Toni after 10th title
Rafa Nadal paid tribute to his uncle and coach Toni after winning a record-extending 10th French Open title on Sunday.
"Thanks to my uncle, he's been with me since I was three years old, we've been working a lot and without him I would not have these 10 trophies with me," Nadal said at courtside after being handed the Musketeers Cup by two-time Roland Garros champion Roy Emerson.
Toni Nadal is planning to step down as his nephew's head coach at the end of the season.
The 31-year-old Rafa hailed the French Open as the most special tournament for him.
Since his debut in 2005, he has lost only two matches on the Parisian red clay and he bagged his 79th victory on Sunday by dismantling Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-3 6-1 in a one-sided final.
"I try my best in all events but the feeling I have here is impossible to describe," the champion said on Court Philippe Chatrier.
"For me the nerves, the adrenaline I feel when I play on this court is impossible to compare to any other feeling.
"This is the most important event in my career. It is difficult to compare this tournament to any other one. It will always be in my heart.
"Feeling your support is just unbelievable," he told the crowd. "Thank you and see you next time."
Third seed Wawrinka, the 2015 champion who had won all his three previous grand slam finals, was gracious in defeat.
"I would like to congratulate Rafa. Nothing to say about today," he said at courtside.
"You're a big example, what you do tennis, in sport is unbelievable," he told the Spaniard.
"He's playing the best he's ever played," the third-seeded Wawrinka told a news conference after watching Nadal collect the trophy "He's the best ever on clay; it's always a tough challenge."
Wawrinka, the French Open champion in 2015 when Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, said the Spaniard had lived up to his expectations on Sunday.
"It was the Rafa I was expecting. We saw how he has been playing since the beginning of the season -- fit, aggressive, his level has been incredible," said Wawrinka, who had lost to Nadal on the same court in the 2013 quarter-finals.
The 32-year-old Swiss had only one break point, early on, and then never threatened Nadal and he blamed himself for being too hesitant.
"When you hesitate on how to play a ball, your legs move later and it's too late. You have to be able to play without thinking. If you hesitate for half a second, it's already too late.
"If you're not completely free... you don't want him to take the lead and play even more freely," said Wawrinka, who became U.S. Open champion last year.
"At the end of the day it was three sets, nothing to say. I can talk about the game, about what I did, about what he did, but at the end of the day it's quite clear."
Wawrinka, however, took positives from the tournament as he had been on the comeback trail after a first-round loss in Madrid and a second-round defeat in Monte Carlo.
He entered the final on an 11-match winning streak following his title in Geneva.
"It was an amazing tournament. Today I lost the final but three weeks ago I was feeling down, I had doubts about my game," said Wawrinka.
"Then I won Geneva and I reached the final of a grand slam. That's big for me but I will need a few days to really see that."