Tennis: Toni feeling left out of Team Nadal

Toni Nadal (left), who has been alongside his nephew Rafael since before his first Grand Slam win in 2005, has felt increasingly over-ruled when calling the shots for the Australian Open runner-up, and will devote himself to the Rafa Nadal Academy in
Toni Nadal (left), who has been alongside his nephew Rafael since before his first Grand Slam win in 2005, has felt increasingly over-ruled when calling the shots for the Australian Open runner-up, and will devote himself to the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca next year. Former world No. 1 Carlos Moya will remain as his compatriot's coach, as the younger Nadal bids to win a 15th Grand Slam.PHOTO: REUTERS

Coach Toni laments being marginalised in the camp due to star's manager and father

MADRID • Rafael Nadal's uncle, Toni Nadal, will step down as his coach after the ATP Tour season ends, as he feels he has been sidelined by other figures in the player's entourage, he told an Italian tennis magazine.

The 55-year-old started out with the 14-time Grand Slam champion before the Spaniard broke into the big-time when he won the French Open as a teenager in 2005.

Two weeks after watching his nephew lose in five sets to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, Toni Nadal told Il Tennis Italiano website that he wants to concentrate on training emerging players after this season.

"From next year I will no longer follow Rafael on the circuit but will dedicate myself exclusively to our academy," he said, referring to the Rafa Nadal Academy that opened last October in Mallorca.

"The relationship with my nephew has always been excellent, in all these years we have never had periods of crisis," he added.

TOO MANY COOKS

The truth is that every year I am making fewer decisions, to the point that I won't be deciding anything any more.

TONI NADAL, coach and uncle of tennis' world No. 6 Rafa, on being squeezed out of the decision-making process involving the 14-time Grand Slam winner.

He did not stop short, however, of insisting that he has felt increasingly sidelined by Nadal's manager Carlos Costa and the player's father, Sebastian.

"The truth is that every year I am making fewer decisions, to the point that I won't be deciding anything any more," Toni said.

Former world No. 1 and fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moya joined Nadal's coaching staff earlier this season, in the hope of helping revive the player's career after two injury-plagued years.

Nadal, without a Grand Slam title since winning the French Open for a ninth time in 2014, withdrew from last year's tournament and missed Wimbledon because of a wrist injury.

But Toni has said that the 30-year-old is now free from pain and back in top form after reaching the final of the Australian Open.

"Rafael recovered his game," Toni told French newspaper L'Equipe in an interview in French earlier last week.

"His tournament was good, his attitude was good and his matches were not bad against (Grigor) Dimitrov, (Gael) Monfils and (Milos) Raonic."

Toni highlighted Nadal's five-set semi-final thriller against Dimitrov as a sign that he is back to his best.

"It was a great match. I think Rafael was actually around his best level, whether in mental or tennis terms.

"For the first time in a long while, Rafael has no physical problems to manage. Since he has been playing with no pain, he has regained a high level."

Despite his recovery, Nadal decided to sit out the Feb 10-18 Rotterdam Open, explaining that he needed ample rest.

"I'm very sorry I won't be able to play but the Australian Open took a lot out of me," Nadal said prior to the Dutch tournament.

"And my doctors are insisting I take it easy and get sufficient rest before playing again so as to avoid any fresh bout of injuries."

The Spaniard has confirmed he will next play at the Mexican Open which starts on Feb 27.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Uncle to leave team Nadal at end of year'. Print Edition | Subscribe