Rafael Nadal’s coaches box will have one less familiar face in it next year as his uncle Toni Nadal has announced that this will be his last year traveling with the Spanish superstar.
Toni Nadal, who guided his nephew to 14 Grand Slam titles (tied for second all time with Pete Sampras) and the No. 1 ranking, said he will focus on developing new talent at the Rafa Nadal Academy.
"I want to take care of training young talent, which is the most delicate moment in the growth of an athlete," he said in an interview with Il Tennis Italiano at a forum held at an ATP Challenger event in Budapest.
Nadal also cited the growing presence of others in the decision-making process.
“The relationship with my nephew is still very good, we have never experienced periods of crisis,” he said. "However, until he was 17 years old I decided everything, then came Carlos Costa as manager and also approached the father, each with their opinions.
"The truth is that every year that happens I decide less things, I will reach a point where I do not decide anything," he said.
The lure of developing new prospects has also played a part.
“I have traveled for many years with Rafael, but now I want to return to the training of young people and our Academy is the perfect place to do it,” Toni Nadal said.
Right now, Rafael Nadal has Francisco Roig and Carlos Moya in his camp, and the expanded team has paid dividends already in 2017. After an injury-plagued campaign a year ago, Nadal won the exhibition in Abu Dhabi and made the finals of the Australian Open, which he lost to his chief rival Roger Federer in five sets.
Toni Nadal spoke glowingly of his nephew’s prospects for 2017 recently, saying that Rafa is pain-free right now and that he “recovered his game.”