Come January, a prominent figure will be absent from Rafael Nadal’s coaching camp- his uncle Toni Nadal. After the Australian Open earlier this year, Toni announced that this will be his last season together with Rafa. Toni Nadal – who thrust a racket in the hands of a three-year-old Rafa, has been in his shadow ever since. He has probably been the greatest influence on the Spaniard, to win multiple titles over the years. He was the one who compelled Rafael Nadal-a natural right-hander, to play with this left hand.
He feels that the time is right for him to step down as Rafa’s coach and focus his attention in mentoring youngsters at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Spain. Rafa respects his decision as well, and says he could never repay what Uncle Toni has done for him. He said, “I can’t thank him enough for the things that he did for me. Probably without him, I would never be playing tennis.”
The arrival of Carlos Moya, has reassured Toni Nadal, that Rafa will be in safe hands. It is uncommon to see a player stick with a coach for so long in his career, but Toni and Rafael Nadal are far from common.
As the season draws to a close, it will be interesting to see the patterns of play that Rafa adapts to, after his uncle’s departure. As for Toni Nadal- he can hold his head up high, and take a long deserved break from the travelling. After a career filled with thrills and spills, with his nephew, he can rest easy. After an accumulation of 16 major titles, and multiple masters’ titles, the curtains are set to fall on the uncle-nephew partnership that enthralled the tennis world for so long.